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Parents urged to talk about online safety when giving internet devices as Christmas gifts

The NSPCC is urging parents to talk to their children about online safety if they buy them internet devices as Christmas presents, following a huge rise in contacts to Childline about online sexual abuse.

NSPCC warns about online sexual abuse

In 2015/16 there were 3,716 Childline counselling sessions about online sexual abuse, a 24 per cent increase from 2014/15 (2,994 contacts on the issue). This issue has also increased by 250 per cent (1,061 sessions) over the past three years.

Online sexual abuse can take the form of grooming, child sexual exploitation, sexting, being made to perform sex acts on webcam, meet up in person, and viewing distressing sexually explicit content.

With tablets, smart phones, and games consoles appearing on many children’s Christmas list, it is vital that parents talk to their children about being safe online, spotting the signs of inappropriate behaviour, and how to report it.

Online sexual abuse was such a big problem for children last year that it took up a third of all contacts about online issues, including bullying and safety.

In 2015/16 the NSPCC’s service received 1,480 contacts about online child sexual exploitation; an increase of 18 per cent from 2014/15 (up from 1,252).

Some children contacted Childline because they felt trapped by their situation because they felt guilty and ashamed, were frightened to talk to an adult about the issue, were being blackmailed, or were considering meeting up in person. Some wrongly feel that they are to blame because they have participated in their abuser’s actions, and are afraid to speak out.

NSPCC warns about online sexual abuse

“I met this guy through social media and he was really nice; he told me I was beautiful and I felt that I could talk to him about everything.

"He asked me for some topless photos which I didn’t think was a big deal, so I sent him a few. But now he’s turned really nasty and is threatening to post them online if I don’t send him more.

"I’m really worried and embarrassed and I don’t know what to do.”

– 14-year-old girl calling Childline

The NSPCC has a host of simple tips and advice on its website. Tips include:

· Exploring sites and apps together

· Ask about things they might see online which make them feel uncomfortable

· Talk about being Share Aware and what is, and is not, ok to share online

· Reassure them that you won't overreact – you're just looking out for them

“The web can be a fantastic place for children and young people to socialise, explore their interests, and learn, but every parent buying an internet device should be aware that there are risks, too and think about installing parental controls.

"In the last year we’ve seen a staggering rise in online sexual abuse, with many children turning to Childline when the situation has escalated.

"Often groomers will use devious tactics to lure in young people and manipulate them into situations that leave them feeling frightened and ashamed.

"The NSPCC has lots of resources to help parents talk about online issues so that they can help keep a child safe and happy online.”

– Peter Wanless, NSPCC CEO

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Pioneering thermal technology to detect cyclists at junctions in York

Pioneering thermal imaging technology is set to be introduced on key cycle routes in York to help improve cycle safety.

The new technology will accurately detect cyclists at signals by their 'heat signature', allowing the signals to adjust to give more 'green time' for cyclists.

The thermal technology was first introduced by Transport for London (TFL) last year as part of the cycle superhighway network.

Fulford Road/Hospital Fields Road junction will become one of the first sites to benefit from the new thermal technology in May 2016. The authority will roll out the new technology at junctions with high levels of cycle use across the city.

The scheme is all part of a multi million pound overhaul of York’s ageing traffic signals – the largest scheme the city has seen in over 20-years.

Red Arrows leave for overseas training

Preparing for take off Credit: RAF Red Arrows

Eleven jets from the Red Arrows aerobatic team have left their Lincolnshire base bound for the Squadron’s annual overseas training – known as Exercise Springhawk.

The Hawk aircraft took off from RAF Scampton and flew to Germany for refuelling, before continuing to Albania and staying overnight in Tirana this evening.

It is the first time the Squadron has formally visited the country and will provide a chance for the team to meet military officers and NATO partners in Albania. The aircraft will then complete the transit to Greece tomorrow.

Heading for overseas training Credit: RAF Red Arrows

For the next five weeks, the team – including pilots, engineers and other support personnel – will operate from Tanagra, an Helenic Air Force base, as they prepare for the 2016 season.

The annual training sees the Red Arrows fly three times a day, five days a week, to perfect their performance.

The overseas location provides the better weather which is essential to enable the team to practice and polish the 2016 display, which will be seen by millions of people this summer. It will be the Red Arrows’ 52nd display season since the first in 1965.

52nd display season Credit: RAF Red Arrows

Exercise Springhawk is the final part of the pre-season preparation and is also when senior Royal Air Force officers assess the team and decide whether to give approval for the Red Arrows to display in front of the public – known as Public Display Authority (PDA).

It is hoped the Red Arrows will attain PDA at the end of April before returning to the UK. Fore more information on the Red Arrows click here

Reports of laser attacks on planes on the increase

Lasers can temporarily blind pilots

A Yorkshire MP says more legislation is needed to stop laser pen attacks on airline pilots.

Greg Mullholland, who represents Leeds North West, says it is a particular problem at Leeds Bradford airport,where half of pilots over the last 12 months have reported laser pen attacks.

Shining a laser at a plane became a criminal offence in 2010. The Civil Aviation Authority says pilots can be temporarily blinded by the beam and the pointers pose a serious safety risk especially during take-off or landing.

Mr Mulholland raised the issue in Parliament, asking Transport Minister Patrick McLoughlin what could be done to stop the 'dangerous practice", suggesting licensing or even classification of the pens as offensive weapons.

Mr McLoughlin replied that there were a number of measures being considered across Government departments and it was something he took very seriously, particularly in the light of certain recent events.

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