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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

The Internet Investigation Report

D.1: Introduction

1. Grooming is the process by which a perpetrator communicates with a child with the intention of sexually abusing or exploiting them. In the online world, it can be facilitated via text and online messaging services, emails, and online games that allow participants to message each other. There may be overlap between online grooming and other online-facilitated child sexual abuse. For example, child sexual abuse imagery may be shared with a child in an attempt to encourage him or her to perform a sexual act. There can also be an overlap between the platforms used by groomers. Initial contact can be made on public social media platforms. Once a rapport has been established, the perpetrator may suggest using the same platform’s private messaging service or moving to an encrypted messaging service. Communication may remain online or the perpetrator may convince the child to meet in person.

2. Section 15 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003[1] criminalised those individuals who arranged to meet a child following sexual grooming. In April 2017, when section 15A was brought into force, it became a criminal offence to send a “sexual communication” to a child.


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