According to a new National Crime Agency (NCA) research, one in every 35 men could be a potential sex abuser posing a major threat to children.
The study has revealed that between one to three per cent of men could be interested in sexual relations with children or child porn, out of which 250,000 are "true paedophiles".
"We are starting to get a real sense of the scale," said Phil Gormley, the deputy director of the NCA.
"The reality is that we are all living not far away from one. If all we have is arrest and incarceration that will not help them come forward.
"Like most people I am shocked by the estimated number who have this interest. It tells us some unhealthy things about human nature."
According to NCA, not all men act on their urges, however the risk is still big enough to devise cautionary moves.
Karen Anne Bradley, the minister appointed for preventing child abuse and exploitation said: "One of the biggest challenges is that the country doesn't yet appreciate the true scale of the problem of child abuse, whether that is abuse that has happened in the past or that is happening right now in our communities, in our homes or online.
"We must look unblinkingly at the reality. Raise our voices when we suspect a child is at risk and work together to find solutions."
Child abuse has become an increasingly talked about matter in the UK with the recent Rochdale child abuse scandal and high-profile paedophile cases, including Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris sending shock waves in the society and government.