Mon­i­tor young of­fend­ers’ on­line threats

Computer Active (UK) - - News -

Young of­fend­ers should have their so­cial-me­dia pro­files mon­i­tored to pre­vent crime, a pro­ba­tion watchdog re­port has said. It warned that some of the vilest crimes, in­clud­ing sex­ual of­fences, are planned on­line in ways that were “in­con­ceiv­able” a few years ago.

Af­ter ex­am­in­ing 115 cases, HM In­spec­torate of Pro­ba­tion found that a quar­ter of the crimes were “di­rectly re­lated” to the per­pe­tra­tor’s use of so­cial-me­dia sites. Its re­port said crimes were now “planned in bed­rooms rather than on street cor­ners”.

In some cases ar­gu­ments on­line es­ca­lated into phys­i­cal as­saults, while oth­ers saw vic­tims black­mailed us­ing in­de­cent images they were pres­sured to up­load. Ri­val gangs reg­u­larly threaten each other in videos on­line.

Of­fend­ers of­ten use codes when chat­ting on­line, in­clud­ing NIFOC (‘nude in front of the com­puter’) and POS (‘par­ents over shoul­der’).

Dame Glenys Stacey, the chief in­spec­tor of pro­ba­tion, said: “This is new be­hav­iour. Many of th­ese young peo­ple shun Face­book and other com­mon ap­pli­ca­tions, in favour of lesser known and, there­fore, more pri­vate me­dia”.

She added that teams deal­ing with young of­fend­ers need help to “catch up” with this change of tac­tics.

The UK has 152 Youth Of­fend­ing Teams, su­per­vis­ing about 19,000 young­sters aged 10 to 18. The Youth Jus­tice Board said it had pub­lished new guid­ance on tack­ling the prob­lem of so­cial me­dia and would “care­fully con­sider the rec­om­men­da­tions within the re­port”.

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