New figures reveal a huge increase in sex crimes reported in the Morecambe district.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show sex crimes have risen by 16.4% in the area and 33% across Lancashire.
A similar rise in sex offences against children is shown in the official data, with a significant number of those crimes taking place wholly or partly online.
PS Dylan Hrynkow of Lancaster police station said: “Lancaster and Morecambe has a dedicated team of detectives that investigate both sexual offences and child sexual exploitation.
“An increase in reports shows that people are becoming more confident in coming forward and reporting offences and this is something the local police, along with partners have worked hard to achieve.
“Locally we do see offences involving children that have been committed over the internet and via social media.
“We would encourage parents to understand and monitor what their children are doing online.”
Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner Clive Grunshaw blamed mobile technology such as smart phones, social media and online gaming for many of the crimes reported against children. He added that cuts to police forces, schools, victim services and social services up and down the country were not helping police tackle this major issue.
He said: “The Government needs to ensure there are more resources to help keep young people safe and, just as important, to ensure our services for victims of crime are protected for the future.”
The Lancashire Police and Crime Commissioner recently launched specialist support services for children who are victims of sexual abuse and has already seen a steady flow of young people seek help to cope with the impact of their abuse.
He said: “What we’ve learned too is that those who are abused are more likely to become abusers in the future without the right support so we need to act now to prevent this from happening.”
An additional £1m has also been invested in the Lancashire force to help investigate non-recent cases, which make up a significant proportion of sexual offences against under 16s reported to Lancashire Police.
Further information for parents can be accessed via www.lancashiresafeguarding.org.uk.
A number of support services are available locally and offer support and counselling for victims of sexual offences via www.birchall.trust.org.uk and trusthouse.lancs.org.