Police are urging parents and teachers to speak to young people about staying safe when using the recently launched Pokemon Go app.
The app allows people to set up a ‘beacon’ which can then encourage other users to reach a specific venue and police are concerned it could be the latest way online criminals attempt to target victims.
Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson, from GMP’s public protection division, said: “We know that criminals move quickly to exploit the latest developments to target victims and Pokemon Go will already be in their sights. There have already been incidents in America where young people are thought to have been targeted through the app.
“I would urge parents to speak to their children about the app and the best ways to make sure they stay safe. Talking to your child is one of the best ways to keep them safe.
“Online child sexual abuse and grooming is a rapidly growing problem and as part of Project Phoenix we continue to work with other partner agencies to raise awareness of the issues and provide advice and guidance on Internet safety, how to stay safe, spot the signs and how to report offences. Young people, parents, teachers and others need to know what to look for so they can raise concerns.
“I ask parents to speak to their children about the sites they visit online, who they talk to and most importantly what to do if they see inappropriate content or are approached by someone that worries them. Advise your child to tell someone they trust and stress they won’t be in trouble. Explain to your child that friends are people that they know in ‘real life’ not someone they don’t know online.
“Parents, make sure you know what your child is doing online and encourage them to talk about any people that approach them online. Everyone needs to keep security settings high and make sure the friends you are talking to online are really your friends.”
Advice to users is:
- Be cautious about alerting strangers to where you will be in future. Be careful where you leave ‘beacons’
- Parents, supervise children when using the app
- Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially in built up areas
- Where possible play with friends and stay in a group
- Avoid playing near roads
- Play at home – You can use lures to attract Pokémon to you
- Keep your device safe – You can still play with your phone out of site, it will vibrate when a Pokémon is near
- Don’t play while driving
For more information on child sexual exploitation and who to contact if you have any concerns that a young person you know may be a victim of child sexual exploitation visit www.itsnotokay.co.uk
You can also report it to Greater Manchester Police by calling 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. If someone is in immediate danger, dial 999.