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Facebook must be regulated, say NSPCC

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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.”

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Former headteacher of Llandysul Primary School jailed for child sex offences

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A FORMER headteacher of primary schools in west Wales who was awarded the MBE for services to education has been jailed for child sex offences.

David Watkin Bundock, aged 74, admitted six offences–one of them committed after he had been arrested and granted bail.

Judge Keith Thomas, sitting at Swansea crown court, told Bundock he had achieved a great deal during his professional career but had then gone on to behave in a way that was the exact opposite to the moral values he had once championed.

Bundock, once the head of Llandysul Primary School, admitted four offences of possessing indecent images of children.

He also admitted attempting to communicate with a child aged under 16 for sexual reasons and, on January 27, 2019, attempting to meet a child following sexual grooming.

Bundock was jailed for two years and three months. He was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order and banned from ever working with children and must register with the police as a sex offender for the rest of his life.

Jim Davis, prosecuting, said Bundock came to be of interest to the police after his telephone number was found on the mobile of a man arrested for indecent images offences.

But after being granted bail he was then snared by paedophile hunters who created an Internet account of a fictional 15 year old boy.

Bundock swapped indecent messages with the “boy” and travelled to a park in Carmarthen hoping to meet him.

But when he arrived he was confronted by members of the group and arrested later that day for a second time.

Bundock’s barrister, India Cox, said his offending was completely out of character and difficult to explain.

Judge Thomas described the offences as appalling.

The offences took place place in Carmarthenshire and at his home at Valetta House, Cardiff.

Bundock went on to become a senior adviser with Ceredigion County Council’s education department. In 2004 he was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

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£24m health centre project will not stop following Interserve problems

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FOLLOWING the collapse of Interserve, health officials have said they are confident it will not affect Cardigan’s £24m health care centre.

Interserve, the government outsourcer to complete the works, ran into financial difficulty and was rescued from administration last Friday by banks and hedge funds. This has left many of it’s key suppliers now facing large financial losses.

With 69,000 staff worldwide, the takeover will ensure they will remain working and with most suppliers trading as usual.

The bailout follows fears that the company could follow in the footstep’s of rival contractor Carillion.

Carillion’s collapse last year left worker’s, pension’s and lender’s with huge financial losses. Forcing the Government to step in and deliver the services.

A Hywel Dda health board spokesperson said: “We can confirm that Interserve will continue to deliver both the Cardigan Integrated Care Centre and the Women’s and Children’s Phase 2 project at Glangwili General Hospital as planned.”

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Young women in Ceredigion make their voices heard

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PERIOD poverty, access to mental health services and equal pay were among the issues raised by young women on International Women’s Day 2019.

On 8 March, in collaboration with the Young Women’s Trust, Ben Lake MP hosted a ‘Real Talk’ workshop aimed at young women aged 16 to 30 years old. Young women from all walks of life came together at the Coliseum Coffee House to voice their concerns and share their hopes for the future with the local MP.

Ben Lake said: “It was great to hear new ideas for change and to discuss ways in which we can improve the lives of young people in Ceredigion. The experiences of women and girls must be heard, both locally and nationally. After all, it is impossible for policies to be truly effective if they do not reflect the wishes, and address the challenges faced by all in society.”

(Credited to Lauren Garside, Year 1 Coleg Ceredigion Media Production student) The ‘Real Talk’ workshop held on International Women’s Day at Ceredigion Museum.

The young women set out three priorities for Ben Lake to campaign for on their behalf at Westminster:

1. Education: ensure that equality issues and mental health awareness training is included on all PGCE courses
2. Increase the national minimum wage for apprentices and roll out National Living Wage for under-25s
3. Period poverty: campaign, raise awareness and look to introduce policies to mitigate the effects of period poverty

Period poverty in particular, was an issue that the young women felt needed tackling as a matter of urgency. A recent report from FreedomforGirls* found that period poverty has a direct impact on education, with pupils in the UK missing class every month due to their periods. A RightsInfo investigation** discovered thousands of women were relying on food banks to get through their monthly periods.

In an attempt to tackle period poverty, the UK Chancellor confirmed in his Spring Statement that secondary schools in England will start providing menstrual products free of charge to girls from September onwards. Ben Lake MP has encouraged the Welsh Government to follow suit.

Ben Lake said: “All women, regardless of age, social status or background, should be able to easily access the menstrual products they need.

“Too many girls miss out on vital education each month as a lack of access to menstrual products forces them to miss school. Even those pupils who do not suffer period poverty will benefit from free access to sanitary products, ensuring no child is without protection during what can be a very stressful and vulnerable time.”

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