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.”
Stereophonics to play Swansea gig
ONE of Britain’s best live bands Stereophonics has announced a special performance at Singleton Park, Swansea on Saturday, July 13, 2019.
The stadium rockers will perform in their south Wales heartland to celebrate 20 years since the career milestone show in Swansea at Morfa Stadium to 55,000 people and the release of ‘Performance and Cocktails’.
It will be the band’s first time back in south west Wales since their Morfa Stadium show in 1999. This now iconic album, which was the band’s second studio release, gave Stereophonics three straight top five singles in the British charts with ‘The Bartender and the Thief’ reaching No.3, and both ‘Just Looking’ and ‘Pick a Part That’s New’ reaching No.4.
Over the past two decades, Stereophonics have played at some of the biggest venues to fans all across the globe, amassing over 10 million album sales in that time.
More recently in 2018, the band performed to sell-out crowds across the globe, including a huge 15-date arena tour, summer homecoming gigs in Wrexham and Cardiff plus headline shows at Kendal Calling, Y Not Festival and Victorious Festival.
Speaking about the latest announcement, Kelly Jones said: “Performance and Cocktails put us on the world map, and also on the TV and the Radio, which meant a lot of people went back to discover Word Gets Around and made our first album platinum! Morfa Stadium was where we set Performance and Cocktails alight, and it was a one off day that can never be beaten. It was perfect. I’m not a man that likes to go backwards, this event is merely a birthday party, so come along and help us blow out the candles.”
Stereophonics are Kelly Jones (vocals/guitar), Richard Jones (bass), Adam Zindani (guitar) and Jamie Morrison (drums).
Tickets go on sale on Friday (Dec 14) at 10am via www.myticket.co.uk.
Heroin could be linked to Aberysytwyth supply
A LIVERPOOL man has admitted possessing heroin that could be linked to drugs supplied in Aberystwyth.
Jack English, aged 20, pleaded guilty to possessing a quantity of heroin with intent to supply when he appeared at Swansea Crown ccourt for a plea and trial preparation hearing before Judge Keith Thomas.
The court heard the drugs could also be linked to English’s father, who had been a heroin user who had ‘gone to Aberystwyth on many occasions’ and who had died since his son’s arrest in October 2017.
Judge Thomas said he would sentence English on January 11.
English, of Storrington Road, was granted bail meanwhile but warned that a jail sentence was the most likely outcome.
Mark Drakeford named next First Minister
THE NEXT First Minister of Wales will be Mark Drakeford, it has been announced this afternoon (Dec 6).
Mr Drakeford, a Cardiff West AM, was named as the winner of the Welsh Labour leadership contest at the Principality Stadium.
The contest was triggered when Carwyn Jones, the current First Minister, announced he was stepping down.
Mr Jones will officially step down on Tuesday (Dec 10).
Mr Drakeford will then be officially confirmed as the new First Minister of Wales by the National Assembly next week.
In the first round of voting, the results were:
Mark Drakeford – 46.9%
Vaughan Gething – 30.8%
Eluned Morgan – 22.3%
Eluned Morgan’s votes were then redistributed on voters’ second preferences, with the following results:
Mark Drakeford – 53.9%
Vaughan Gethin – 46.1%
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