Blackpool PC’s ‘Operation Safety Net’ mission off to a flying start

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A police officer visited St Nicholas Primary School in Marton to discuss internet safety with its pupils.

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PC Claire Van Deurs Goss with Ben Wright, 11.

PC Claire Van Deurs Goss with Ben Wright, 11.

PC Claire Van Deurs Goss is on a mission to speak to Year Six youngsters at every school in the resort, after she launched ‘Operation Safety Net’ recently.

She said: “Many children have got phones for Christmas and they are at risk of sharing too much information about themselves online.

“I think it’s really important to capture children at this age, before they go high school, to chat to them about some of the dangers posed by the online world. We want to support children to use the internet safely and to let them know what they should do if they are exposed to something which makes them feel upset, worried or unsafe.

“I will also be doing question and answer sessions for parents to offer some advice. I have children myself so I know only too well some of the concerns parents might have.”

Coun Gillian Campbell

Coun Gillian Campbell

PC Van Deurs Goss has been to more than 30 schools so far, and is working with Blackpool Council and the educational officer from the force’s Awaken team, which works to prevent child sexual abuse in the resort.

The council’s deputy leader, Gillian Campbell, said: “This project aims to not only educate young people and their parents/carers but to safeguard young people from online grooming.”

PC Van Deurs Goss, will also be attending all forthcoming parents evenings at Blackpool primary schools to speak to parents.

She will be offering to set their safety controls on their children’s devices in company with an NSPCC Online guru as well as providing advice.

If successful, Operation Safety Net could be rolled out across Lancashire.

Crime commissioner speaks

Clive Grunshaw, said: “Keeping our children and young people safe online is a key priority and education plays a major part in this.

Operation Safety Net is another example of the fantastic work our officers do with local schools and the level of take up shows just how important these types of activities are.

“Over the past year my office, Lancashire Constabulary and Nest Lancashire have been working closely with schools and other partners to create a toolkit for professionals working with children in the county.

“Online safety is a key aspect of the toolkit and I will continue to support the great work that goes into supporting schools and protecting pupils.”