Don’t let your kids be exploited on the internet - DCI Alan Carson
Over the years I have had the pleasure of writing this column as the Local Area Commander for South West Edinburgh. Today, I have the pleasure of once again writing a Capital Cops column. However, this time I am giving an insight into the city’s Public Protection Unit (PPU), having recently taken up post as Detective Chief Inspector.
I know that, to many, the most obvious distinction between local community policing and the CID is in physical appearance. But what does it actually mean beyond that? Usually, there’s an assumption that the CID deal with more serious crime.
That’s partly the case, but the truth is everyone in Police Scotland deals with serious crime, whether in uniform or otherwise. The distinction really relates to the parts we play.
The role of a detective officer is complex and challenging. Specialist training ensures they are able to not only carry out full and thorough investigations into what are often the most traumatic experiences of a victim’s life, but also able to provide support the victim.
Within the PPU those experiences often relate to sexual offences, crimes relating to domestic abuse or child protection. For many different reasons, victims are often at increased vulnerability.
While lockdown has removed much physical interaction and risk in many ways, it has concentrated risk and vulnerability in many others.
The overall recorded sexual offences remain almost unchanged compared to this time last year, however, we continue to urge parents and guardians to ask, do you really know who your child is speaking to online?
Online communication has been important to many of us in maintaining social interaction, maybe even more so for children. A big part of that has been the safe environment of home schooling. Away from those regulated platforms and forums, however, lies a real risk.
Offenders target children by luring them into sexually motivated conversations, ultimately trying to persuade them to share sexually explicit content.
Our advice is simple – you can never be too cautious when it comes to online safety. The impact of any form of abuse leaves a lasting impact on victims and I would urge you to take the opportunity to revisit online safety. There’s some excellent advice here https://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/child-protection/online-child-sexual-abuse.
The reality is that criminals – whether sexually, financially motivated or otherwise – continue to use the internet to their advantage, creating increasingly sophisticated ruses to exploit.
While there is reassurance to be taken from a continually improving solvency rate for sexual offences, it goes without saying that that any crime is better prevented than solved.
Whether in the real or virtual world, please continue to keep yourself safe during lockdown and beyond.
Detective Chief Inspector Alan Carson, Edinburgh Public Protection Unit