Children could get to manage “alarms”

Children at risk of online grooming should be sent automatic alerts as part of the government’s internet security strategy, the NSPCC has said.

The children’s charity, said existing algorithms could be used to mark the suspected groomer for the moderators.

A “puzzling” 1,316 offences were recorded in the first six months of a new child grooming law to be introduced last year in England and Wales.

The minister Matt Hancock is said to be robust with social media companies.

The minister for the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said the government was working to make the UK the safest place in the world to go online and that can and “must” include rule alerts.

He told BBC Breakfast that as a father of three children, was a thing that “is really important to him.
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Before the new offence of sexual communication with a child who has been introduced in the month of April, the police could not intervene until the groomer, attempted to achieve their objectives face-to-face.

Of the reported cases, the youngest victim was a seven-year-old girl, even though girls between the ages of 12 and 15 were the most likely to be targeted by predators.

Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat were the most common sites used by criminals, which constitute 63% of all accidents.

The NSPCC, which has embarked on a campaign to bring the new legislation, has criticized the social media companies for not making the most of the technology already in use to enforce the law.

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Algorithms – the calculations that tell the computer what to do – are currently being used by social media companies for reporting images of child abuse, of hatred and extremist material.

The charity has said the same techniques should be used to collect the “grooming ” language”, and then send an automatic alert both the child and the moderators.

Tony Stower, head of child safety online at the NSPCC, said that despite the “impressive number of crimes,” the government and the social network are not properly working together to stop this crime from happening.

“The government’s Internet Security Strategy, they must apply for the use of social networks to build in technology to keep their young to the safety of the users, rather than relying on the police to step in, once the damage has already been done,” he said.

The NSPCC said the existing voluntary code of practice does not go far enough and has called for a mandatory code to be put in place.

In the meantime, Facebook has said that it was already using the technology to identify grooming behaviour.

Vera Baird, the victim business lead, at the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners, said that it expected the number of cases to be superior, given the “endemic” scale of online grooming.

He said the notices are “imperative” for the prevention, but must be accompanied by a sex and relationships education so that the children know how to respond to a warning message.

The Home Office said the £20m was spent pursuing rule violators in 2017.