Child sexual abuse streamed live online through services like Skype has been highlighted as an emerging threat by experts
Figures show an increasing number of offenders have been targeting vulnerable families overseas to set up live access to children over webcams in exchange for payment.
The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s (Ceop) annual report also warned that fears were growing of child sexual abuse in Brazil ahead of the country’s influx of visitors for the World Cup and Olympic Games.
In 2012, Ceop received 8,000 reports of indecent images of children being shared – with a two-fold increase in the total number of images and videos on previous years to 70,000.
Ceop chief executive Peter Davies said: “Our assessment shows that, sadly, there are still too many children at risk and too many people who would cause them serious harm.
“We should all practice zero tolerance to child sexual exploitation and abuse.”
The report said live streaming emerged as a key method of producing and distributing indecent images last year, a tactic that it said presents a particularly high risk in the developing world.
Abusers are making contact with vulnerable families and criminals in poor countries during holidays abroad and preparing the ground for watching abuse via webcam when they return to Britain
Concerns were also raised about the use of the so-called hidden internet – heavily encrypted forums and pages that allow abusers to cover their tracks when accessing indecent images online.
The number of UK users connecting to secret or encrypted networks each day increased by two thirds, one of the largest annual increases globally, the report said.
A total of 20,000 daily UK users of such networks are expected by the end of this year, although not all of these will use the hidden internet for criminal means.
Ceop found that there has been a 70% increase in the number of female victims under 10 years old.