TODAY is Safer Internet Day. As part of the global campaign, Jamie Bowman spoke to North Wales Police's Cyber Crime Unit in St Asaph...

IN a part of the unit’s offices in St Asaph, Detective Sergeant Peter Jarvis explains that officers deal with criminal matters such as online grooming, ‘sexting’ and revenge porn all coming under their remit.

‘Sexting’ is when a person takes intimate photographs of themselves, and sometimes even of friends, and sends it to a friend, boyfriend or girlfriend via their phone or publishes it on the internet, for example on social networking sites.

“Children are very susceptible to being groomed online and they are also sharing self generated images with people they don’t know,” he says.

“Once they have taken that picture and shared it, it is on the internet forever and there’s no recovery. It’s a big issue for us at the moment and we’re doing all we can to prevent it.

“We appeal to children and parents to actually understand what apps they are using and understand the security settings on their social media accounts.

“There are age limits on these things for a reason and that’s because there’s a risk involved.

“We are going into schools and we’re delivering some very impactful lesson plans. We are hosting parents evenings too and it’s been well received so far. It’s core to our role here.” 

DS Jarvis is quick to praise the efforts of his colleagues when faced with material which can be incredibly challenging to deal with.

“In this area of work we are investigating indecent images of children and the team’s commitment to the role is unquestioned when you consider what they have to do.

“As part of their role they have to categorise images and some of them images we have to see are horrific.

“The other day one member of staff had to categorise 250,000 images – you can imagine the demands on that member of staff and the impact on them.” 

Despite the obvious strains and stresses both officers are finding their work and success incredibly rewarding.

“It is rewarding,” adds Supt Williams.

“We’ve both been here in the police for over 20 years ,predominantly in the CID area and in the past you’ve always had something tangible at the end of the investigation which is reassuring for the public.

“With cybercrime it is a new world and culture where you’re not going to get that at the end of it – you have to accept that your focus is prevention and safeguarding.

“But if we can stop one, two or three people from being exploited that’s a success for us and there is as much reward from that as there is an actual arrest.”