Hertfordshire Police recorded nearly 50 crimes of sexual communication with a child in the first year of an anti-grooming law.

The force said it had received note of 48 offences of Sexual Communication with a Child during the first year of the law, with 33 crimes recorded as involving Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram.

Meanwhile, the youngest targeted in England and Wales was just five years old.

The new crime of Sexual Communication with a Child came into force on April 3 of last year, following an NSPCC campaign.

In the first year a total of 3,171 crimes were recorded by police across the country and Wales– amounting to nine grooming offences per day.

Following the NSPCC’s #WildWestWeb campaign, Digital Secretary Matt Hancock announced that laws will be brought in to regulate social networks, to keep children safe and prevent harms such as grooming.

The charity is now campaigning to ensure those laws are sufficiently robust to prevent grooming and to truly keep children safe. It is calling on Government to:

- Create mandatory safety rules that social networks are legally required to follow;

- Establish an independent regulator to enforce safety laws and fine non-compliant sites

- Require social media sites to publish annual safety reports;

- Force platforms to develop technology to detect grooming using algorithms.