HUNDREDS of online child grooming offences have been recorded by Greater Manchester Police since a new law was introduced.

Figures from a Freedom of Information request published by the NSPCC found 684 crimes were committed in the region after it became illegal to send sexual messages to children.

Across England and Wales the total number of offences committed was 10,119 between April 2017 and October 2019.

The NSPCC has said that number of offences is accelerating with a national increase of 23 per cent taking place in the six months up to October last year.

But the charity is warning there could be a sharper rise this year due to the unique threats caused by coronavirus that are being exacerbated by years of industry failure to design basic child protection into platforms.

And the charity wants legislation to help prevent offenders from using social media to target children for sexual abuse.

The NSPCC also revealed Facebook-owned apps were used in 55 per cent of cases, from April 2017 to October 2019, where police recorded information about how a child was groomed.

In response, a Facebook spokesman said: "There is no place for grooming or child exploitation on our platforms and we use technology to proactively find and quickly remove it.

"Our teams also work closely with child protection experts and law enforcement, reporting content directly to specialists such as CEOP and NCMEC.

“Over the last few years we’ve invested billions in safety, tripled the size of our safety and security team to 35,000 and built artificial intelligence technology to proactively find and remove harmful content.

"Facebook has long called for new regulations to set high standards across the internet.

"New rules are needed so that we have a more common approach across platforms and private companies aren’t making so many important decisions alone.

“We look forward to carrying on the discussion with Government, Parliament and the rest of the industry as this process continues."