Grooming prompts online lessons call

A young girlImage copyright
PA

More than 150 people in Wales have been reported to police for meeting children following sexual grooming over the last five years, new figures show.

Dyfed-Powys Police saw the highest number of recorded complaints with 60, while North Wales had the lowest with 26.

Almost 60% of the crimes reported from 2011 to 2015 included online grooming.

NSPCC Cymru wants compulsory online safety lessons to become part of the curriculum.

Figures obtained by the charity under the Freedom of Information Act, showed 155 complaints were filed against adults accused of meeting a child under the age of 16 following sexual grooming.

South Wales Police received 35 reports while Gwent Police got 34.

Dyfed-Powys Police reported the highest number of crimes involving online grooming with 37, followed by Gwent Police with 22, North Wales Police with 17 and South Wales Police with 16.

NSPCC Cymru has called for mandatory online safety lessons in schools from September to teach pupils about the dangers of social media and online grooming.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “Education is the key to teaching children how to use the internet safely so they don’t find themselves at risk of serious harm.

“Online safety is a 21st century child-protection challenge and it is something that we need to tackle head on.”

Media captionLouise, not her real name, was groomed online from the age of nine, but said she did not know what was happening at the time

The Welsh Government said it had an “extensive” e-safety education programme, which included online resources and classroom materials to help pupils “think critically, behave safely, and participate responsibly online”.

“We have also created an online one-stop shop, Hwb, providing help for children and young people to stay safe on the web,” a spokesman said.

South Wales Police, Dyfed-Powys and Gwent Police said they worked with schools to educate pupils on issues including grooming, sexual exploitation, the taking and sharing of inappropriate images and staying safe online.

Gwent Police Supt Leanne Brustad said the force gave 1,874 lessons to almost 50,000 pupils in 2014/15, while South Wales Assistant Chief Constable Con Jon Drake said it worked with agencies to ensure those working with young people understood the signs of such abuse.

Dyfed-Powys Police said it had put more resources into tackling the issue and it had a team of digital detectives, forensic computer and mobile phone investigators.

North Wales Police has been asked to comment.



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