Loose Women panelists Nadia Sawalha and Linda Robson have been left “scared” and “distressed” after spending a day with a paedophile hunter for their brand new feature, Loose Women Undercover.
For the first instalment, the two teamed up with Internet Interceptors to see how children can fall prey to paedophiles online. The “hunter” set up three decoy profiles using historical pictures of adults when they were aged 11, 12 and 13 and soon Sawalha and Robson could see the messages come flooding in.
The footage was filmed before Christmas, but launching Loose Women Undercover on the show today, Robson admitted she had been haunted by the experience.
“Within seconds, hundreds of middle aged men [approached us online], knowing they’re speaking to a child that age,” she said.
“[They] then start befriending them and then asking to meet them, asking them to undress… honestly it was so distressing. I just couldn’t stop thinking about it, all over Christmas… seeing some of those images was just…”
Sawalha praised the paedophile hunter herself, explaining: “It was very scary, I was scared for her… she’s putting herself at great risk. I felt a bit haunted for her because it’s like she’s got this unbelievable responsibility she’s got on her shoulders.
“At any one time she had four phones with her, she was working on the decoys the whole time, the messages were coming in the whole time.”
However, there was a word of caution from the National Crime Agency. Ruth Langsford read out a statement warning: “While we understand the public desire to protect children from online abuse, we do not encourage vigilante action which can compromise ongoing investigations into paedophile networks.”
The show highlighted a 250% increase in the number of calls to Childline from children concerned about online abuse in the last three years, and urged parents to explore internet security settings and talk to their children about the dangers of social media.
Loose Women Undercover will continue throughout the year as the Loose Women panelists investigate other issues affecting viewers.
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news