HUNDREDS of people from the Capital have sought help for looking at images of child sex abuse online, new figures reveal.
A website designed to help prevent people from looking at such images was visited by 343 individuals from the city last year.
Police and child protection charities have backed the Stop it Now! campaign site for helping prevent potential abuse.
“It’s getting people to realise that this is a real child people are looking at.
“Individuals we speak to say it’s just an image isn’t it, I didn’t harm this particular child,” said Stop it Now’s director Stuart Allardyce.
“But by continuing to look at these images, they are feeding a market. It’s not a victimless crime, it has enormous social and personal impact.”
The campaign is funded by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation, named after its founder, the only UK-wide charity focused solely on reducing the risk of child abuse.
The website takes visitors through modules to allow them to confront their behaviour and stop visiting illegal websites, while emotive videos on the dangers are also available to watch.
“If people are concerned about looking online for this material or thinking about stopping then we provide help and support both via the helpline and online,” said Allardyce.
“It’s for individuals who are concerned about problem behaviour online to give advice and support and the different options they have in stopping using this material.”
Mr Allardyce said options included stopping using all forms of pornography or withdrawing from online altogether.
“The modules are also for people also who don’t have a problem themselves with images of children but are concerned about loved ones or friends.
“How can they can help support them and point them in the right direction.
“We think it’s important because we want to get the message out there that we’re keen on prevention. This clearly is an emotional social issue but it’s also a preventative social issue.”
Mr Allardyce stressed child pornography is often linked to sexual abuse and exploitation - while those caught with images face prosecution and being placed on the sex offenders’ register.
DI Brian Stuart of Edinburgh’s cybercrime operations unit said: “This service is independent of law enforcement and the judiciary, providing an invaluable support service.
“The organisation can also support close family members of those suspected of being involved in such behaviour providing them with the necessary support through what must be a difficult time.
“Police Scotland is committed to protecting our communities from Child Sexual Exploitation: working in partnership with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation is a positive example of the outreach that is available.”
An NSPCC Scotland spokesman said: “Research indicates that up to half a million men in the UK may have viewed child abuse images, which shows this is a serious problem we must urgently address.
“Prevention of child abuse is of the utmost importance.
“The NSPCC welcomes further focus on this aspect of prevention.”