MORE than 850 people in Oxfordshire contacted a helpline about ‘worrying’ sexual thoughts towards children last year.

New figures released today show that in 2019 a total of 852 people living in the county contacted the Stop It Now! hotline and self-help website about sexual thoughts, feelings and behaviour towards children.

That number is a steep rise from the year before when in 2018 only 416 people got in touch.

Stop It Now! is a service run by The Lucy Faithfull Foundation – a national charity that tries to help people understand what triggers their illegal behaviour and point them in the direction of support to stop it for good, hence the name.

It is run by a team of former social workers, probation officers, psychologists and ex-police officers who speak to the callers to give them support, but also assess any dangers children could be in.

Calls are technically confidential and anonymous until a child is at risk or a crime has been committed.

Read more: Thief stole thousands of pounds of designer skincare

The recent surge of people getting in touch has been put down to the efforts of the charity to raise awareness about the campaign.

The Stop It Now! helpline opened in 2002 and is one of the only UK-wide protection charity helping prevent sexual abuse.

Across the country there has also been a rise in the number of people seeking help.

In 2018 the charity received 43,000 calls and visits to its website, but in 2019 nearly 100,000 got in touch.

In total 94,342 people contacted Stop It Now! across the UK.

Not everybody who uses the service thinks about children – adult family and friends of people who are, or are at risk of, offending online or offline can also get support.

Viewing and sharing indecent images of children online is a major problem in the UK and globally.

In 2018, the National Crime Agency estimated that some 80,000 people in the UK posed a sexual threat to children online.

Read again: Crimewatch hosts joins Thames Valley Police for criminal hunt

In 2018 the National Crime Agency estimated that 80,000 people in the UK posed a sexual threat to children online.

The director of the helpline, Donald Findlater, has said that most of these men are 'normal'.

He said: “Tens of thousands of men in the UK are viewing and sharing sexual images of under 18s - these men are our friends, family, neighbours and colleagues. Most are adults, but a significant proportion are teenagers.

"Many of these men started viewing this illegal material as part of their adult pornography habit, somehow not noticing or perhaps caring that these were images of children being abused. Some don’t know the law and need it spelling out. A few are struggling with a long-standing sexual interest in children and think that looking at ’only pictures’ is a way of containing that interest. Whoever they are, they need to know this behaviour is illegal; that children are harmed by it; that serious consequences await those involved in it; but that our helpline gives anonymous, and confidential support."

Go to or call 0808 1000 900.