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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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Haverfordwest: HaverHub targeted by vandals

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Trashed: Vandals, believed to be children, have targeted HaverHub

POLICE are investigating after thieves broke into HaverHub community centre and stole alcohol and a net full of plastic ducks.

The first incident occurred on Friday evening (Aug 17) or early Saturday morning (Aug 18) when a side door was smashed in.

Within hours, vandals had returned and went about trashing the place and stole 26 bottles of Prosecco.

In a post on social media, HaverHub said: “The first [incident] saw our side door kicked in, and the second occurred when some opportunistic kids came in through the unsecured door.

“They’ve smashed a window, emptied two fire extinguishers everywhere, helped themselves to our supplies and generally made a big mess. They’ve also stolen 26 bottles of Prosecco, and a net full of plastic ducks from the duck race.”

HaverHub project coordinator and founder Gitti Coats told the Herald: “One of the team came to secure the broken door and make it safe and as he arrived three girls and three boys of about 12-years-old ran from the building with a seventh child locked inside.

“If any parents see their child with cuts from broken glass or with yellow plastic ducks, please get in touch,” she added.

The former Post Office building in Quay Street was taken over by the non-profit social enterprise in August last year aiming to provide a new focal point for the community.

HaverHub has appealed for anyone with information to contact Dyfed-Powys Police directly by calling 101.

A JustGiving page has been set up where donations to support the project can be made: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/haverhub-clear-up and you can find out more on the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/4haverchange

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Woman injured in Castlemartin cliff fall

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A WOMAN suffered injuries after falling when climbing at Linney Head near Castlemartin.

Coastguards were called after the fall near Linney Head at about 4pm last Friday (Aug 17).

Tenby Coastguard Rescue team were paged to assist St Govan Coastguard Rescue team in a rescue operation which lasted two-and-a-half hours.

The area needed to be assessed for a suitable helicopter landing site to enable Coastguard Rescue helicopter 187 to land on site.

The casualty suffered leg injuries and was airlifted from the cliff and flown to Withybush hospital, where she continues to receive further treatment.

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Haverfordwest: Your Health, Your Wealth event returns

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HAVERFORDWEST will be the location for the second Your Health, Your Wealth money advice and wellbeing event to be held in Pembrokeshire on Friday, September 7.

More than a dozen local and national organisations have already signed up to take part in the pop-up advice shop at Unit 5, Riverside Shopping Centre between 10.30am and 1pm.

Attendees will receive the latest information on how to save money, manage changing welfare payments and pick up tips on how to stay fit and well as the winter approaches.

The event will run alongside the first Farmer’s Market of September in the town centre. Everyone attending will receive an official event booklet detailing money saving tips, healthy living ideas and essential contact information for local organisations, and be entered into a prize draw.

Eluned Morgan AM said: “Low unemployment rates don’t necessarily signal a strong economy. The reality is that finances are still tight for thousands of families in Pembrokeshire. Household incomes are under pressure as the cost of living and heating our homes continues to rise.

“That is why setting up this pop up, one-stop advice shop with local organisations who can offer the very best advice on how to live well. The Citizens Advice Bureau, Age Cymru, PAVS Community Connectors, Pembrokeshire Trading Standards, Macmillan Cancer Support, the DPJ Foundation and many others will be there.”

Pembrokeshire people in and out of work who are in receipt of benefits will be able to apply for Universal Credit soon, including self-employed people or those considering self-employment.

The Department of Work and Pensions have also been invited to attend to explain how benefit changes will affect local residents with Universal Credit set to roll out from September 5.

Eluned continued: “For many people, especially those on lower incomes, the changing benefits system and the increasing cost of living is making life much more stressful and that isn’t good for our health. I’ve recently met with Martin Lewis, the money saving expert, who agrees that not enough is being done to help people manage their money, and is concerned about the impact on peoples mental health. This is why I’ve been so keen to organise these events right across the region.”

Eluned Morgan will be holding an advice surgery during the event, where local residents can talk to her about a particular issue in their community or ask a question about the role of the National Assembly for Wales.

A full list of the organisations taking part can be found on Eluned Morgan’s Facebook Page – www.facebook.com/ElunedMorganAM

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