Nearly 90 people were arrested in Hertfordshire over offences relating to indecent images of children over the last year.

Figures obtained by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) showed there were 89 arrests in the county over the 2011-12 financial year.

The statistics, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, also revealed some people were caught with as many as 6,000 images.

Dan Russell, from the NSPCC, said: "The number of these dreadful images is absolutely appalling. And let’s not forget only a handful of police forces could supply figures.

"The truly awful thing is that more and more children are being abused so these pictures can be produced and once in circulation they may stay there for many years. If we can halt this vile trade we will be saving countless children from suffering sexual assaults which have a huge impact on their lives."

The information has emerged after the charity made requests to all police forces in the country about the number of arrests and total number of images seized last year.

The NSPCC said only a handful of forces responded.

Other figures show the internet had led the number of convictions to rocket.

Since 1995 the number of people convicted in England and Wales has risen more than 1,700 per cent from 85 to 1,495 last year.

Mr Russell added: "The authorities are working hard to clamp down on this but there are still far too many pictures available. It’s time the Government and industry got together to find an answer to this corrosive problem which cannot be allowed to continue.

"There are obviously paedophile rings which make a sordid business of sharing these images. But there are now so many in circulation that people from all walks of life are getting caught with them. They have to understand these are not just images - they are crime scenes. "