POLICE today urged Wigan people to take five minutes and learn how to protect themselves as part of Safer Internet Day.
Greater Manchester has seen a significant increase in crimes that have a digital link, both online and on social media and its force is calling on people to take a few minutes to find out how to stay secure.
Wigan itself has its share of problems. The most recent figures suggest that 21 children in the borough are at risk from child sexual exploitation (CSE).
Seven of these young people were placed in the “high risk” category and 14 in the medium. CSE is usually defined when a child or young person is manipulated by an elder into sex following a process of grooming.
This can involve gifts being given and being distanced from parents or guardians.
And cases tend not to be reported to the authorities due to the young people being shamed or intimidated out of reporting the crime.
A new 19-point action plan aims to prevent high profile cases like Rotherham occurring in Wigan borough including the identification and disruption of areas where CSE activity is most likely to occur.
Last year a Wigan teenager who groomed and incited young schoolgirls, via the internet, to engage in sexual activity, was sentenced to four years’ detention.
Sentencing Jimmy Griezel, a judge said that he had caused considerable distress to the vulnerable victims.
The 19-year-old of Atherton Road, Hindley, had pleaded guilty at Liverpool Crown Court to three offences of incitement and two of sexual grooming.
Judge Alan Conrad said his course of offending involved inciting three girls, aged 10, 12 and 13 from Wigan, to become involved in sexual activity after contacting them via the internet.
The court heard that Griezel had previous convictions involving sexually assaulting a girl and a boy and had also received an earlier warning for inciting another young boy to engage in sexual activity.
Officers from GMP’s cyber-crime team were today at the Force Museum to share key safety tips from 1pm and 2pm and were holding a Twitterchat at 2pm to answer questions about online security. Join in on the discussion using #AskGMP and follow @gmpolice.
Det Supt Mark Smith, responsible for tackling cyber-crime, said: “It only takes a few minutes to read through the guidance and learn how to protect yourself and your family online.
“Every day we see incidents where people are targeted by fraudsters, conmen and bullies and it doesn’t need to happen. Many people are still getting to grips with the technology developments and I want them to give five minutes today to check out suitable guidance.”
Guidance is available on www.gmp.police.uk. Here is also extensive information on safety and security at www.saferinternetday.org.uk