13/05/2014

PSNI Address Online Crime

429 offences have been committed in Northern Ireland over the past seven months via a computer, computer network or other computer-enabled device, according to the PSNI.

The offences were recorded between 1 October 2013 and 25 April 2014 and the two most severe were harassment (176) and fraud (113). There were 45 incidents of a sexual nature, 32 threats to kill and seven reports of blackmail.

A breakdown of the victim profile shows 78 were aged between 10-19, 113 aged between 20-29 and 71 aged between 30-39.

To date, 31 offenders have been detected and dealt with either by way of charge, summons, caution or discretionary disposal.

Research by Ofcom last year found that about half of parents of 5-15-year-olds feel their child knows more about the internet than they do.

A new advertising and awareness campaign has been launched at Belfast South Community Resource in Sandy Row.

The PSNI has joined non-profit awareness organisation Get Safe Online, internet security company Norton by Symantec, the Organised Crime Task Force and the safety and life skills education centre RADAR as part of the campaign.
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PSNI lead officer for cyber investigations in Organised Crime Branch, Detective Chief Inspector Douglas Grant, said: "The internet is a fantastic resource for learning, communicating and entertainment but, on the down side, it also provides opportunities for some individuals or groups to harm or abuse people, particularly young people.

"We are concerned about the number of younger victims in the provisional figures we have released. As one element of our response, we are starting this awareness campaign to make sure parents have the knowledge and skills to protect their children online."

Justice Minister David Ford added: "This is a really important initiative. As the internet becomes an ever increasing part of daily life it is vital that everyone knows how to keep themselves safe online.

"This is particularly important for young people. The Organised Crime Taskforce, which I chair, recognises this. It has recently introduced a sub-group to look specifically at cyber crime in Northern Ireland and works closely with the PSNI and others in this area.

"All involved in this area know how difficult it can be to keep up with the online activity of a younger generation. I fully support this initiative which will help to educate parents and encourage families to discuss the issue together."

(IT/JP)

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