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Community Crime Lurgan

Kelly Expresses Concern at Risk to Children and Young People

SDLP Policing Board member Dolores Kelly has expressed her concerns at the risk posed to children and young people across the North.

Mrs Kelly was speaking after receiving a briefing from the National Crime Agency (NCA) who have assessed using modelling there are approximately between 16,000-23,000 people in the North who pose a risk to children and young people.

Offences can range from the viewing and uploading of images to more serious offences including sexual assault and rape. It was also noted that while offenders could be based in the North, their victim could be based in another jurisdiction.

Upper Bann MLA Mrs Kelly said:

“I was extremely shocked and concerned to hear from the NCA about the large number of people with the potential to pose a risk to children and young people across the North. While we are all regrettably aware that these awful incidents do take place, I was taken aback to hear of the sheer number of people believed to be a potential risk.

“While there is no need for parents and guardians to be unduly alarmed, I think it is important to highlight the importance of educating children and young people about the best ways to keep themselves safe and how to recognise unacceptable behaviour from others. Parents should be having these conversations with children from a young age to equip them for anything that may come their way. We need to also see a joined up Executive approach on public messaging around these issues to ensure it hits home with people.

“With the rise of social media and internet use it is also important to educate young people about the dangers posed online. Parents should be keeping an eye on their children’s online behaviour and regularly checking their privacy settings to ensure they are not accessing inappropriate material or engaging with dangerous apps and platforms. We are rapidly approaching the point where our children and young people are more at risk from this type of activity in their own bedroom than they are out on the street.”

ENDS

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