CYBER sex crime involving schoolchildren is behind a surge in offences, Edinburgh's top cop has revealed.
Chief superintendent Sean Scott said children are both perpetrators and victims of inappropriate images and messages sent on social media.
Mr Scott praised the work of officers in trying to warn youngsters of the risk while a charity urged parents to play a crucial role in keeping their kids safe.
“These platforms can be unsafe,” said Mr Scott. “Children are online sending images without consent and the ramifications for them in the future are huge so we’re trying to educate kids in that regard. It’s not just children, it’s adults as well.”
Official Police Scotland figures for April to June show communicating indecently up 83 percent on the same period last year, from 23 reported crimes to 42.
And reports of threatening to disclose an intimate image were up more than two-thirds (69 percent) from 16 to 27.
“Online is driving these figures up and a huge part of that is children on social media,” added Mr Scott.
“That’s why we’re trying to increase work with school linking officers and youth justice.
“Every school provides online safety advice and we’re working with partners as part of our community safety for Edinburgh.”
Indecent and sexual assaults were up nearly a quarter (23 percent) from 111 to 136 with Mr Scott blaming late-night booze-fuelled perverts.
“It’s a lot of inappropriate touching over clothing,” he added. “We’ve worked with licensed premises on ‘hands off’ campaigns - encouraging people not to grope, basically.”
Officers have launched a ‘don’t be a bystander’ call urging anyone who witnesses a sexual assault to report it to police.
The number of rapes reported between April and June dropped 15 percent from 53 to 45 on the previous year.
A spokesman for NSPCC Scotland said: “Many young people tell our Childline service that they feel pressured into sending sexual images of themselves and don’t always have the confidence to say no.
“Children must be made aware of the ways that others may try to coerce or manipulate them into sending indecent images of themselves. This can have long-lasting consequences, particularly given that once an image has been sent, a child will no longer have control over the image and it could be shared publicly.
“It is vital that parents take the first step – even if it feels awkward – to talk to their child about the dangers of sexting.
“We have a huge amount of information on our NSPCC website about online safety, sexting and on how parents can have sometimes awkward and difficult conversations with their children.”
For further information on how to keep your children safe online go to: https://www.nspcc.org.uk/preventing-abuse/keeping-children-safe/share-aware/
HOUSEBREAKING reports were down more than a third on last year - while serious assaults and robberies also saw dramatic drops.
The 229 reports of homes broken into between April and June was down 37 percent, from 366, on the previous year.
Serious assaults were down nearly a quarter (23 percent) from 94 to 72 while robberies were down 15 percent from 81 to 69.
Mr Scott attributed the results to crack teams of versatile detectives locking up repeat offenders.
“We changed our approach to it with targeted operations and shift changes and it’s clearly had the desired effect,” said Mr Scott.
Overall, the total number of crime reports between April and June were down two percent from 14,157 to 13,816 on the previous year
“Edinburgh is a safe city and that’s the priority, to make people feel safer,” said Mr Scott.