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Councillors to quiz head of West Yorkshire's cyber crime unit

Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith.
Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith.

The importance of protecting children from cyber crime will be discussed by decision-makers in Wakefield next week.

Members of Wakefield Council’s children’s scrutiny committee will quiz a West Yorkshire Police expert on online safety on Monday, looking at the extent of cyber crime, online safety education and potential risks in the Wakefield district.

The meeting comes as up to one third of all internet users are now under the age of 18, according to a report prepared for the meeting on Monday.

Councillors will discuss the ongoing work of West Yorkshire Police’s Cyber Crime Unit, which launched in 2015.

The head of the unit, Detective Chief Inspector Vanessa Smith, will attend the meeting, the report said.

She will lead a presentation about online safety, and members will also be able to quiz her on issues.

The report said priority topics include safeguarding children and young people from the potential risks associated with being online.

Det Chf Insp Smith is also expected to give an update on specific initiatives being run by the force to educate children and parents about online safety.

A meeting of the council’s Children, Young People and Skills Overview and Scrutiny Committee was told in October that the amount of time young people spend online is increasing.

Nearly one third of 12-15-year-olds now access social media at least ten times a day, the meeting was told.

And, the average 14-year-old now has around 700 friends on the Facebook social media site.