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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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Views sought on proposed Ceredigion Language Strategy

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VIEWS are being sought on the proposed Ceredigion Language Strategy 2018-2023.

Ceredigion County Council’s proposed strategy sets out how the Council – working in collaboration with other partner organisations – will actively promote the Welsh language and facilitate the use of Welsh more widely within the local area.

Producing the Strategy is one of the requirements of the Welsh Language Standards in accordance with the Welsh Language Measure (Wales) 2011.

The Ceredigion Language Strategy aims to sustain and to promote the Welsh language in all aspects of life and to demonstrate ways of strengthening social networks in a bilingual area. Ceredigion remains a stronghold of the Welsh language however communities are changing which can affect the Welsh language and culture. Responding to these challenges, mitigating the risks facing the Welsh language and securing the viability of welsh-speaking communities requires robust language planning, alongside taking positive action in all aspects of social and economic life within the county.

The Leader of the Council and Cabinet Member with responsibility for Welsh Language Standards, Councillor Ellen ap Gwynn, said: “In implementing this strategy, Ceredigion will be contributing towards the Welsh Government vision in its Welsh Language Strategy, which aims to reach a million Welsh speakers in Wales by 2050. This strategy is an opportunity for us to work across the county to increase the use of Welsh language and to ensure that it reaches those parts of public life where it may be less prominent at present. This vision is to maintain a truly bilingual Ceredigion, where the Welsh language can be seen and heard every day in communities as a natural means of communication.”

The strategy is designed to be as realistic and proactive as possible in order to contribute to the vision of a truly bilingual Ceredigion, however the actions identified are within the sphere of influence of organisations working in partnership through the Ceredigion Bilingual Futures Forum.

Councillor ap Gwynn continued: “We are inviting you to comment on the proposed Strategy and the identified actions to be delivered in Ceredigion. We value your opinion, and your comments will be taken into account when publishing the final Strategy.”

Closing date for the consultation is August 13, 2018.

To view the proposed strategy, visit the Consultation page on the Council’s website, www.ceredigion.gov.uk/

Individuals are welcome to contact the Council on 01545 570881 should they wish to receive further information or to receive the information in another format. You can also obtain a paper copy of the Strategy at any of the Council’s Public Offices or Libraries.

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Archaeological sites revealed in drought

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Iron Age farm near Whitland (pic. RCAHMW)

AN AERIAL ARCHAEOLOGIST has photographed ancient settlements from the air after the heatwave has revealed outlines as crop marks.

Dr Toby Driver, Senior Aerial Investigator, uses a light aircraft to find sites, flying from Haverfordwest Airport with stopovers made for fuel at Caernarfon, Welshpool or even Gloucester airports.

The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Wales (RCAHMW) has released photographs from Dr Driver’s discoveries.

Iron Age farmsteads has been discovered near Whitland in Carmarthenshire and coastal Ceredigion. The Llŷn peninsula has extensive crop marks of prehistoric enclosures, as well as a Bronze Age barrow cemetery.

In Gwynedd, another Celtic settlement has been found on the valley floor between the hillfort Craig yr Aderyn and the castle ruins of Castell y Bere.

A suspected Roman watchtower was also revealed on the nearby coast. Parch marks of Roman buildings are showing at Caerhun Roman fort in Conwy Valley, whilst crop marks of a prehistoric enclosure and a suspected Roman villa were found in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Iron Age farmstead in Ceredigion (pic. RCAHMW)

A Roman town and fortress between Caerwent and Caerleon have also appeared in the dry conditions.

Dr Driver said: “I’ve not seen conditions like this since I took over the archaeological flying at the Royal Commission in 1997. So much new archaeology is showing it is incredible; the urgent work in the air now will lead to months of research in the office in the winter months to map and record all the sites which have been seen, and reveal their true significance.”

The marks are the result of vegetation feeding on better nutrients and water supplies, that have been trapped in the old fortification ditches.

This leads to the lush green growth that results in the pronounced outlines of the prior settlements.

Despite this, the vegetation can quickly retreat as the weather changes.

This research is expected to prompt further research on the ground in the future.

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Welsh Water advises customers to use water wisely

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WELSH WATER is encouraging its three million customers to continue working with the company by using water wisely – even though it may soon start to rain. After such prolonged dry weather, it will be difficult for any rain to penetrate the ground and help restore reservoir levels.

The company – which provides drinking water to most of Wales, Herefordshire and parts of Deeside – is safeguarding water supplies following the hottest June in Wales since records began in 1910.

It has been proactively taking measures for the last two months to prepare for the hot weather, with 450 colleagues finding and repairing leaks and its 62 water treatment works being manned 24 hours a day to help supply a record 1 billion litres a day.

The company confirmed that a few of its 87 reservoirs are now lower than usual at this time of year but said this is to be expected given the prolonged dry weather. It will take some time for these reservoirs to recover to their normal levels, despite the expected rain over the next week.

Managing Director of Water Services Ian Christie, said: “Over the last few months, we have taken and will continue to take all the necessary actions to ensure there is enough water in our network during this very dry period.   We’ve done a lot of groundwork in the background to prepare for this weather and still doing everything we can to safeguard supplies. This includes finding and fixing leaks and putting more water in the network every day than ever before.

“It’s really important that our customers continue to work with us during this period. If they spot a leak, please let us know. We’re also asking them to think about how much water they are using.

We want everyone to stay safe and drink water while it’s hot but we’re reminding everyone of the need to use water wisely and efficiently.

“Customers may notice that some reservoir levels are lower than usual but this isn’t a surprise given this continuing dry weather.  We are all using more water and we’re putting 20% more water into the system. This is helping us meet higher demand in particular communities. We are also using our own fleet of over 30 tankers to help.

“Even if the weather starts to turn and it rains, it’s important that customers continue to work with us and use any water efficiently.  Customers can get advice on our top ten tips of how to use water efficiently around the home and garden from our website, dwrcymru.com

Customers can also help by reporting any leaks as soon as they notice them either through our website or by calling our leak line on 0800 052 0130. Our teams are out and about working around the clock fixing leaks on the network to make sure as much water as possible is available for customers to use.

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