File picture: Pexels

London - Paedophiles can access child abuse images online in just three clicks, the National Crime Agency in Britain warned on Thursday.

NCA director-general Lynne Owens said such material was found so easily via search engines that there was nothing to stop offending on the open web.

Police chiefs across Europe have backed her demands for companies to block child sexual abuse material as soon as it is detected. It comes as investigators found that offenders can target victims over a live stream for as little as £10.

Mrs Owens said: "In just three clicks our officers could locate child sexual abuse on the open web. There is no barrier to offending and that cannot continue."

She did not single out any technology or social media firms, but called for ‘zero tolerance’ to child sexual abuse.

Mrs Owens said: "The sheer volume of child sexual abuse material available online creates a permissive environment for offenders to develop their sexual interest in children. Live-streamed abuse for commercial purposes is a growing threat; for as little as £10 to £20, offenders can orchestrate the abuse."

On Wednesday, the UK Government set out plans to empower regulator Ofcom to hold internet companies to account if they fail to protect users from harmful material.

Daily Mail