Sextortion threat to Midlothian youngsters

Growing concerns about young people falling victim to sextortion crime has been raised by parents with police, it has been revealed.
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Police chiefs in Midlothian said they have been approached by an increasing number of parents reporting incidents involving their children. And they said it is the biggest cause of threats and extortion nationally, with many of the crimes being committed by people living abroad.

Sextortion involves the threat of sharing sexual information, images or clips to extort money from people, whether images actually exist or not.

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The growing concern about youngsters being targeted comes as a separate report revealed a survey of teenagers in one area of the county found nearly a half of 13-17 year olds obtained alcohol from their parents or guardian.

Stock photo.Stock photo.
Stock photo.

And it was revealed that in the first three months of this year two youths were charged with possession of a Stanley knife and wooden stick, while another was charged with head-butting another youth in a store during a crackdown on disorder in the Rosewell and Bonnyrigg areas.

The troubling issues facing young people in Midlothian were outlined in a police report on work carried out between January to March this year in the county.

Speaking to a virtual meeting of Midlothian Police and Fire Rescue Board acting local area commander James Robertson said that sextortion crime was “often perpetrated overseas and very challenging to detect.”.

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He said: “Recently we have observed an increase in the parents of younger persons reporting incidents to police.

“This is a concerning trend and we are working closely with Educational Partners to raise awareness and understanding of this issue, whilst highlighting safe practices for using social media platforms.

“Our messaging remains the same, sometimes the people you meet online are not who they say they are. We want people to be aware of the risks and stay safe online and if there has been an incident, to have the confidence to report it to police.

“Every report will be treated seriously, handled in a sensitive manner, and victims will be treated with respect”

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The alcohol survey saw 45 per cent of youngsters say a parent or guardian provided them with booze – significantly higher than anywhere else in Scotland.

The police chief said a new report titled ‘An Alcohol free Childhood – Parental Supply to Children’ will be rolled out across the county following the survey results.

He told the board that the Midlothian Community Alcohol Partnership (CAP) has been working positively with the Dalkeith and Newbattle area to create educational and awareness sessions aimed at protecting 13-17 year olds from the risk of alcohol consumption.

He said : “Initial public opinion surveys secured a return of 340 responses (school pupils & residents) highlighting 45% of 13-17 year olds obtained their alcohol from a parent or guardian.

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“This is a significantly higher percentage compared against other parts of Scotland/UK.

“In response, CAP has commissioned a report ‘An Alcohol Free Childhood – Parental Supply of Alcohol to Children’ that will be rolled out across the area to raise awareness.

“Educational and interactive sessions, retail awareness sessions, independent retailer training and a media campaign are also in the process of being finalised for delivery via the CAP, in accordance of the objective of protecting and educating youths.”

The report also included action carried out by Midlothian Community Action Team over the first three months of the year including extra patrols in the Rosewell and Bonnyrigg areas in relation to youth disorder.

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It said: “Following a large scale disturbance two youths were charged with possession of a Stanley knife and wooden stick respectively and a further youth was charged after CCTV enquiries revealed he had head-butted another youth within a store.

“Following this incident further engagement was conducted in the relevant schools where the affected youths attended, to warn all pupils about the pitfalls of being involved in such activities”.