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Weekly Edition - Publication date:- 2017-02-10

-en Southport & Mersey Reporter

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'Safer Internet Day 2017' sees 6th Form College students give unusual task

MERSEYSIDE Police have been raising awareness about how to stay safe online, on Safer Internet Day 2017, that took place on Tuesday, 7 February 2017. Merseyside Police has teamed up with the National Police Chief's Council (NPCC), National Crime Agency Child Exploitation Online Protection centre (NCA CEOP) and the UK Safer Internet Centre to promote the safe and responsible use of technology.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Baker from Merseyside Police said:- "We are joining this national day of awareness to warn children, young people and adults of the dangers of being manipulated online by strangers and to alert parents, teachers and guardians to the warning signs that children may be at risk. We want to raise awareness of the importance of setting parental controls on computers, games consoles and electronic devices to keep your children safe, so they are not exposed to potentially harmful and inappropriate material online. I would also strongly advise parents to be satisfied that they know who their children are engaging with. Online gaming is increasingly popular with children and young people. But some people may not realise that games consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation are connected to the internet and can be used for communicating, as well as playing games. The web offers a degree of anonymity to criminals intent on grooming young people, allowing them to pretend to be someone they are not and gain trust and build relationships with younger people in order to exploit them. These relationships may feel like genuine friendships for that child or teenager but they are clearly not. Some young people over share online, on social media and webcams and that type of behaviour can be exploited by some."

The Studio School and 6th Form College, on Greenland Street, Liverpool has a strong emphasis on digital technology and they receive a visit from Merseyside Police, where a cybercrime operation was launched.

Year 10 and Year 12 students will be tasked with developing a product utilising digital technology or other means that will reduce cybercrime offending and protect victims. The students will be required to present their pitch to a panel of members of Merseyside Police and The Studio.

The concept that the panel find most convincing will then be developed by the students, making use of external support from partners of the School. It is hoped the product will be launched later in 2017.

Detective Chief Inspector Mark Baker added:- "Every 1 of us has to play our part in putting a stop to the exploitation of children and we all need to know the signs to look for, including if they are regularly missing school, appearing with unexplained gifts, having mood swings or becoming secretive about their use of social media. If you are a child, you may think it's cool to get involved with older people but they may ask you to perform sexual acts or take photos of yourself in return and you may be pressured to keep these things secret. If we all look out for these signs and report any suspicions, we can break the cycle. If you are a parent or carer of a primary aged child, you can help them spot the signs of manipulative behaviour online with the CEOP's Play, Like, Share series. It is really important that we all become more aware of the possible risk of exploitation on social media sites and how to report suspicious activity to the police. If your child has been approached inappropriately online, report it to us on:- 101 and we will take action."

Advice and guidance for children, young people and adults to help them stay safe online is available on the Merseyside Police website.  You can also find useful information on:- GetSafeOnline.Org; CEOP.Police.UK also look at:- ThinkUKnow.Co.UK.

If you believe your child is a victim or at risk of child sexual exploitation online call Merseyside Police on:- 101. Alternatively contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If the life of a child is in immediate danger or a crime is ongoing dial:- 999.


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