AN NSPCC investigation reveals that Facebook and the apps it owns were used in over half of online grooming cases after the introduction of a new offence, with Dyfed-Powys Police recording 19 cases in six months.
In the first nine months of a new offence of Sexual Communication with a Child, there were 1,628 crimes recorded in England and Wales, and police revealed what platform was used in 956 cases. Facebook was used in a third (32.6%) of cases, with Facebook owned apps Instagram and Whatsapp used in nearly a fifth (19.8%) of cases. The second most-used app was Snapchat with 176 cases.
In Wales, police forces recorded 149 crimes under the new grooming offence, with 46% of these using Facebook and Facebook-owned apps when the method was disclosed by police.
South Wales Police, which along with Dyfed-Powys Police only gave data for the first six months of the new offence instead of nine, saw the most recorded crimes with 74. North Wales Police was next with 35, followed by Gwent Police with 21 and Dyfed Powys Police with 19.
Matt Hancock, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has heralded the end of the ‘Wild West Web’, and the NSPCC has urged him to follow through by bringing in a regulator to force social networks to keep children safe.
At present DCMS has plans to introduce a voluntary code for social networks, which sites could choose to adhere to, or ignore, with social networks self regulating for the past ten years.
Figures from Freedom of Information requests to police forces across England and Wales show the number of cases where groomers used Facebook, and apps owned by Facebook. The youngest victim recorded was aged just two years old.
As part of its #WildWestWeb campaign the NSPCC has called for Mr Hancock to bring in an independent regulator for social networks with fining powers, a mandatory code which introduces safe accounts for children as well as mandatory transparency reports forcing social networks to disclose how many safety reports they get, and how they deal with those reports.
In May 2017 Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams announced that the Welsh Government would create an online safety action plan for children and young people. NSPCC Wales is looking forward to its publication and calling on the Welsh Government to work jointly with the UK Government, to ensure children are better protected from harm online.
Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has a golden opportunity to put an end to the Wild West Web and force social networks to protect children online. Facebook has shown it is happy to use data for commercial purposes, but has failed to harness data in a way that can be used to prevent grooming.
“Facebook should be leading the way, but instead it has demonstrated time and again that self-regulation isn’t working and social networks can’t be left to mark their own homework. Mr Hancock could be the person who makes the internet a safer place, for every child now and in the future. We hope he seizes the chance to do that.”
Share experiences of sexual harassment to help police
PEOPLE who have been subject to sexual harassment are encouraged to share their experiences to help understand the scale of the problem in communities across Wales.
Dyfed-Powys Police is taking part in a country-wide campaign, which urges anyone who has been subject to sexual harassment to say when and where the incident took place, as well as how it made them feel, anonymously through an online survey.
The results will be used to challenge and change the culture of misogyny and sexual harassment, so people can feel safe to live their lives without fear of harassment.
Dyfed-Powys Police Assistant Chief Constable Richard Lewis said: “Sexual harassment is simply unacceptable – it doesn’t matter who it comes from or where it happens, it should not be tolerated by anyone in society.
“We are committed to making sure everybody feels safe in their community, and has the freedom to make life choices without fear of sexual harassment. We want people to be able to access every area of society with confidence, from sports facilities and workplaces, to public transport or pubs and clubs.
“By taking part in this survey, you will help us to understand the scale of the problem in communities across Dyfed-Powys Police, which will enable us to listen to those affected by sexual harassment and to make a real difference in the future.”
To take part in the survey, visit https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/SWPCOM
Proposed salmon byelaws to be postponed until 2019
NEW fishing byelaws have been proposed which will make it mandatory for fishermen to release all salmon caught in Welsh rivers.
The procedures for introducing new byelaws are protracted and Natural Resources Wales wishes to avoid uncertainty for fishermen by delaying implementation of approved new measures until the 2019 fishing season.
The proposed all Wales byelaws, which include restrictions on fishing methods to help the survival of released fish and reduced net fishing seasons, are currently being considered by Welsh Government.
Dave Mee, Senior Fisheries Advisor for NRW, said: “At the moment timescales for a decision are uncertain, so we are proposing that introduction of any new measures should be postponed until the beginning of the 2019 rod and net seasons.
“We hope this will help clarify the situation for anglers, netsmen, fishery owners and clubs and associations.”
Welsh salmon stocks remain in a perilous condition. Although the mandatory catch and release proposals have proved unpopular with anglers, NRW firmly believes that they, along with other measures such as tackling agricultural pollution, improving water quality and managing the potential threats from predators are vital for the future survival of these iconic fish.
Peter Gough, Principal Fisheries Advisor for NRW added: “This delay is a pragmatic solution to resolving current uncertainty.
“However, it is important to note that this does not mean there will be further debate on the subject as NRW has concluded its position and the case for further controls has been made and presented to Welsh Government and it remains unchanged.
“Protection of the breeding resources of these wonderful fish is a fundamental part of our work to manage this important natural resource sustainably.”
This season, fishermen are again being asked by NRW to practice full restraint and ensure conservation of fish stocks by voluntarily releasing all the salmon they catch in 2018.
Dave explained: “Our salmon stocks are in serious trouble and have fallen to historically low levels and the same is true of about half of our sea trout stocks.
“Neither species can sustain uncontrolled killing of fish and so we are again asking all anglers to release all of their salmon.
“Most anglers are already voluntarily releasing the fish they catch, but some are not. We feel the situation is now so serious for salmon that we must ask all anglers to help preserve as many fish as possible by returning all their salmon.
“It’s also very important to take great care of returned fish. Fishing methods and tackle should be used that ensure fish have a high probability of survival, they should always be kept in the water while unhooking to ensure they can swim away strongly.”
Don’t be a Bystander campaign launches
A NEW campaign to show how important a positive intervention can be for someone experiencing or who has experienced violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence launches today in Wales with a powerful short film featuring the words of survivors.
Leader of the House and Chief Whip Julie James will meet survivors to talk about their experiences and how the actions of those people around them can make a difference.
Julie James said:
“We want to encourage everyone to act, to do something, however small or simple when they are worried that someone they know is, or may be experiencing violence, abuse or sexual violence.
“Just the very act of asking someone “are you ok?” can have a huge impact.
“We do not advocate stepping in and intervening in a potentially dangerous situation or where people could get hurt – please call the police in this situation.
“We want to create a culture where people feel empowered to help prevent violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and to make Wales the safest place to be a woman.”
The campaign film encourages everyone to support someone they are worried about and signposts them to the Live Fear Free helpline and website. The campaign also includes a short film which explains what happens when you call the helpline as a concerned person.
Mary* is a survivor of domestic abuse; her colleagues had noticed her behaviour change and one sat her down to say “that’s one bruise too many”. Mary’s neighbours had suspicions and became involved when her daughter went to them for help.
They brought Mary into their home and she accepted their offer to ring the police. Only then did she realise that a number of her neighbours had suspected something was wrong. Her partner was arrested that night and her life changed.
“Suddenly I didn’t feel alone. People asked “are you ok?” and “how can we help?” and I felt that I could answer. I’m not sure I would have felt safe enough to answer before but hope that I would have at some point.
“I know I had been relieved when my colleague had asked, even though I didn’t feel able to speak to them about what was happening.
“What I would say to people who suspect things are not right with a family member, friend, colleague or neighbour, is trust your instinct, ask them if they’re ok and keep asking, it may not be the right time for them to speak to you when you ask that first time, but your words could be the glimmer of hope that leads to a life being saved.”
Sarah* grew up in Nigeria, where Female Genital Mutilation is common in her community. The traditional beliefs and practices were so instilled that it was something that every girl endured. Crucially, Sarah did not know that the practice was called FGM.
When her midwife asked her if she had been subjected to it, she said:
“I was confused and got upset and angry, it wasn’t what I was expecting, in our culture women who are not cut are seen as unclean. I tried to walk away and as I did I was asked by the receptionist, “are you ok?”. Thankfully she helped me to calm down as I realised that I wanted to talk to my midwife. Even though it must have been difficult for her too, she was understanding and helped me.”
She brought her daughter to Wales so that she would not be cut after she came to realise what had been done to her. She said:
“I wish the people who helped me could see the impact on mine and my family’s lives, I wish they could see the confidence they have given me. I would like them to see how happy I am day to day, my children are not going to go through this, I am a survivor.”
Find out how to support someone today to live fear free. Visit www.livefearfree.gov.wales or call 0808 8010800 for 24 hour confidential advice and support.
News2 weeks ago
Man who died in George Street fire named, ruled accidental
News4 days ago
Man swapped 50,000 messages with 13-year-old girl
News7 days ago
‘Race hate’ case will be heard at Crown Court
News1 week ago
Dog walker attacked by ‘evil thugs’
News4 days ago
Man fought with burglar in his home
News2 days ago
Teenage arsonist blacked out the centre of Llanelli
News2 weeks ago
Man ‘punched several times’ during assault
News2 weeks ago
Drug raids lead to heroin seizure