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NSPCC warns of a tsunami of online child abuse in the North West as grooming crimes more than double in 4 years2

YOU'D look twice if you saw them enter a pub together for the big match, so what do Ellie Taylor, Harry Redknapp, AJ Odudu, Karen Carney and Jermaine Jenas all have in common? They're passionate fans of football and for this summer's UEFA Women's Euro 2022 they are all showing their support for the beautiful game by becoming the:- '12th Woman.'

This eclectic all star squad was enlisted by Heineken®, Official Partner of UEFA Women's Euro 2022, to be ambassadors for its new '12th Woman' campaign. Throughout the tournament, Heineken is rallying fans of all genders to get behind their national teams by displaying a twist on the term usually associated with collective, passionate fan support: the 12th man.

The '12th Woman' is part of an ongoing campaign by Heineken® which shines a light on bias and challenges stereotypes in football culture.

Stephanie Dexter of Heineken® commented:- "For so long football culture and fandom has been influenced by the men's game. So, while the women's game has grown massively, a legacy of terms such as 'man on' and the 'the 12th man' continue to dominate. Meanwhile the '12th woman' is relatively unheard of. We want this campaign to help close the gender phrase gap in football language, but also invite a conversation about the entrenched bias and inequality that persists across football culture."

The ensemble of Taylor, Redknapp, Carney, Jenas, and Odudu officially issue Heineken's invitation in a new film wherein they all declare themselves to be '12th Women'. In the video they bring attention to the decades-long gender imbalance in football language and encourage other fans to join the 12th Woman movement in time for the UEFA Women's Euro 2022.

The film shows Harry at the wheel of a van as he rounds up the celebrity fans to watch a tournament match at Wembley. Along the way the famous 5 question the unconscious bias in football terminology before exiting the van, walking down Wembley Way and proudly revealing their t-shirts; all emblazoned with the slogan 'I Am The 12th Woman.' But said Tees aren't being reserved for the all-star cast; the good news for fans is that they're being made available for public sale on Amazon for a price of £12.00 here with all profits donated to the NFP Women in Football. Throughout the tournament supporters are encouraged to wear them in a show of allegiance, wherever they may be watching the action.

Karen Carney, who played 144 times for England said:- "There are 11 women on the pitch who are giving everything to win for their country. Knowing that fans are cheering them on in the stands, at homes and in pubs across the country makes a difference and that's why being a 12th Woman and saying it aloud really matters. Football fans' approach to this tournament could be a major stepping stone to real change in terms of how we all talk about football."

Harry Redknapp said:- "When I was playing professionally it really was a man's game; women were banned from playing football in 1921 and the Women's Football Association wasn't even established until 1969. Thankfully times have changed, and in a big way, and I'm really proud to be a 12th woman and to wear the T-shirt for all to see. Some people could be confused by the term the '12th Woman', they might have to stop and think. But that's the whole point, that's what Heineken is trying to do with this campaign."

Yvonne Harrison, CEO at Women in Football said:- "We've been really impressed by Heineken's commitment to addressing gender inequality in football. That's what Women in Football is all about too, so it's fantastic to team up with them on the 12th Woman campaign. Every action that supports our work and amplifies our message helps to level the playing field and make football a fairer and better place."

With two-thirds of women in football having experienced gender discrimination, Heineken is on a mission to evolve its sponsorships in the sport by addressing harmful stereotypes which are perpetuated by an outdated footballing phrasebook. It's time to tackle gender inequality in the beautiful game by interrogating the unconscious bias in the songs we sing, match reports we write and even the encouragement we give.

Stephanie Dexter concluded:- "In its aim to be the most inclusive football sponsor, Heineken is inviting supporters to confront the bias and promote equality. We've created this campaign and, with the support of our ambassadors, we hope that the UEFA Women's Euro 2022 is the 1st step in changing the way we think and speak about sport. We can see a future where football is just called football, no matter who is on the pitch or in the stands."

Heineken®'s 1st move in correcting the gender bias in football was to address inaccurate statistics present across the internet that are often the source of the prejudice. 'Fresher Football' is a webpage in partnership with GOAL that provides correct responses to the most popular questions asked online about the UEFA Champions League. It includes key data and statistics on the women's game, which are often overlooked. The aim of Fresher Football is to encourage search engines and fan sites to recognise, amend and update their current information to give accurate answers, regardless of gender.

Jermaine Jenas, BBC presenter and former England footballer said:- "The profile of the women's game has risen massively over the past 10 to 15 years and players such as Lucy Bronze and Karen Carney have rightfully taken their places alongside some of the greats of the men's game. But the culture and language attached to the women's game still lags behind. Women's football has inherited male oriented terminology; phrases like:- 'man on', and, of course the:- '12th man'. I'm extremely proud to be part of a campaign that celebrates the women's game and the UEFA Women's EURO 2022, but also 1 that addresses issues of gender inequality around our national sport."

Presenter AJ Odudu, said:- "The brilliant thing is that anyone can be a 12th Woman. I can't wait for the tournament to start and I can't wait to put on my 12th Woman Tee, head to the pub and enjoy what should be a true festival of football."

TV comedian and writer, Ellie Taylor said:- "It's not every day you get recruited by the national treasure that is Harry Redknapp to join a cohort of fabulously talented people all committed to reengineering an outdated football phrase - and celebrating the women's game. Harry had me at hello to be honest. In all seriousness, I love watching big tournament football and I'm thrilled to be a 12th Woman. It might not be a thing, yet. But it will be."


Scientists use vaccination to successfully treat Covid19 for 1st time

EXCLUSIVE figures obtained by the NSPCC reveal online grooming crimes recorded by Police in the North West have more than doubled in 4 years, with an average of 4 reports every day last year.

The 4 forces in the North West recorded 1,465 offences of Sexual Communication with a Child in 2021/22, up from 565 in 2017/18; an increase of 159%.

Nationally, there were 6,156 Sexual Communication with a Child offences recorded in 2021/22; an increase on the previous year and almost 120 offences a week on average.

Analysis of Freedom of Information data from 41 UK Police Forces shows an 84% rise since 2017/18, taking the total to more than 27,000 offences since 2017.

The NSPCC is warning record levels of online child sexual abuse seen during the Pandemic have not subsided and may mean a long term increase in risk.

The charity said the sheer scale of offending shows the vital importance of ensuring that the Online Safety Bill effectively tackles child sexual abuse and has practical suggestions for how this is best done.

This should include giving the regulator, Ofcom, the powers to proactively tackle abuse in private messaging, making platforms work together to stop grooming pathways and stopping offenders from using social networks to organise abuse.

The NSPCC's research also reveals a number of other significant findings:-

The analysis shows the stark reality of sexual violence faced by girls on social media. 82% of grooming cases last year were against girls, where the gender was known. 12 to 15 year old girls made up 39% of all victims where the age and gender was recorded.

The figures reveal the calculated way offenders target children through well established grooming pathways, with abusers contacting children on social media and gaming sites and coercing them to produce self generated child abuse images.

Meta owned platforms were used in 38% of instances where the means of communication was known, while Snapchat was used by groomers more than any other platform, in a third of offences where a site was recorded (33%).

The data shows grooming is increasingly a cross-platform problem, with Police recording 70 different apps and games involved in grooming crimes in the last 12 months alone. Multiple social media sites were often used in the same offence.

One 15 year old girl who was groomed on multiple sites told Childline:- "I've been chatting with this guy online who's like twice my age. This all started on Instagram but lately all our chats have been on WhatsApp. He seemed really nice to begin with, but then he started making me do these things to:- 'prove my trust' to him, like doing video chats with my chest exposed. Every time I did these things for him, he would ask for more and I felt like it was too late to back out. This whole thing has been slowly destroying me and I've been having thoughts of hurting myself."

Sir Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive, said:- "Online grooming is taking place at unprecedented levels and only concerted action will turn the tide on this tsunami of preventable abuse. The crucial Online Safety Bill is the opportunity to deliver the legislative change we urgently need to address head on these preventable crimes against children. We strongly welcome the Government's ambition to deliver world leading legislation. But as it seems increasingly clear that the Pandemic has resulted in a long term increase in the abuse threat, the current proposals must go further now to tackle online sexual violence and prevent avoidable abuse."

Digital Minister Chris Philp was due to address an NSPCC event in Parliament on Tuesday afternoon where experts and campaigners with lived experience of abuse set out the case for a strong Online Safety Bill....

The charity is asking the public to email their MP to support amendments to the legislation that aim to improve its response to child sexual abuse.

The NSPCC has set out a 5 point action plan for the Online Safety Bill to systemically prevent avoidable child sexual abuse.

Polling shows widespread public support for the measures to be adopted so the legislation achieves its ambition of giving children receive a higher standard of protection online:-

1. Give the regulator powers to proactively tackle abuse in private messaging.

66% of child abuse is currently found in private messaging so the NSPCC welcomes that it will be in scope of the Bill. But they want Ofcom to be given power to proactively require firms to use technology to detect and disrupt grooming and the sharing of child abuse images...

2. Make platforms work together to tackle grooming pathways.

The NSPCC said these figures show grooming doesn't just happen on 1 site and offenders use well known grooming pathways to target children.

Companies should have a clear legal duty to address cross platform harm and legally co-operate with each other to disrupt grooming.

3. Stop offenders from using social networks to organise abuse; breadcrumbing

Offenders perfectly legally use social media to form networks, advertise a sexual interest in children and signpost to illegal child abuse content hosted on third party sites.

The NSPCC want the Bill amended to combat the ways offenders facilitate abuse on social media, which they say could prevent millions of interactions with accounts that contribute to grooming.

4. Adopt a Violence Against Women and Girls Code of Practice.

The Government should commit to a statutory code of practice on violence against women and girls to ensure the Online Safety Bill has a systemic and enforceable focus on online sexual violence.

5. A children's watchdog that represents children's needs.

Children make up 1 in 5 UK internet users but are inherently vulnerable, according to the NSPCC. The charity said the Online Safety Bill can achieve its ambition to give children a higher standard of protection by creating a statutory watchdog to promote children's interests, funded by a levy on the tech industry.

This user advocacy body would ensure child protection is front and centre of regulation, prevent harm by acting as an early warning system to flag emerging risks and call for swift action. This would be similar to the role played by Citizens Advice in the energy and postal sectors.


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