A CHILDREN’S charity is calling on the government to do more to ensure social media giants harness technology to enforce a new law banning sexual predators from contacting children online.

More than 100 cases have been recorded in the North-East in the last six months, following the introduction of a new law relating to sexual communication with a child.

The NSPCC has welcomed the new law, which they say could have allowed police to intervene sooner when former Sunderland footballer Adam Johnson sent sexual messages to a 15-year-old girl, before meeting her and engaging in sexual activity.

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Previously, police had to wait until groomers tried to meet victims face-to-face.

It is now calling on the government to force social media companies to build on existing technology to flag up potential abuse and use algorithms, which are already used to identify images of child abuse, hate speech and extremist material.

Tony Stower, NSPCC head of child safety online, said: “Despite the staggering number of grooming offences in just six months, government and social networks are not properly working together and using all the tools available to stop this crime from happening.

“Government’s Internet Safety Strategy must require social networks to build in technology to keep their young users safe, rather than relying on police to step in once harm has been done.

“If government makes a code for social networks that is entirely optional and includes no requirement for platforms to tackle grooming, this is a massive missed opportunity and children will continue to be put at risk.”

Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram were the most common sites used by offenders to target youngsters, accounting for 63 per cent of cases where the communication method was recorded.

Girls aged between 12 and 15 were the most likely to be targeted by predators, with girls as young as nine targeted in the North-East.

Durham Police recorded 38 offences, while 45 were recorded in Cleveland, 18 in Northumbria and three in North Yorkshire.

Nationally, 1,316 offences were recorded.