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Facebook must be regulated, say NSPCC

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AN NSPCC investigation reveals that Facebook and the apps it owns were used in over half of online grooming cases after the introduction of a new offence, with Dyfed-Powys Police recording 19 cases in six months.

In the first nine months of a new offence of Sexual Communication with a Child, there were 1,628 crimes recorded in England and Wales, and police revealed what platform was used in 956 cases. Facebook was used in a third (32.6%) of cases, with Facebook owned apps Instagram and Whatsapp used in nearly a fifth (19.8%) of cases. The second most-used app was Snapchat with 176 cases.

In Wales, police forces recorded 149 crimes under the new grooming offence, with 46% of these using Facebook and Facebook-owned apps when the method was disclosed by police.

South Wales Police, which along with Dyfed-Powys Police only gave data for the first six months of the new offence instead of nine, saw the most recorded crimes with 74. North Wales Police was next with 35, followed by Gwent Police with 21 and Dyfed Powys Police with 19.

Matt Hancock, the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport has heralded the end of the ‘Wild West Web’, and the NSPCC has urged him to follow through by bringing in a regulator to force social networks to keep children safe.

At present DCMS has plans to introduce a voluntary code for social networks, which sites could choose to adhere to, or ignore, with social networks self regulating for the past ten years.

Figures from Freedom of Information requests to police forces across England and Wales show the number of cases where groomers used Facebook, and apps owned by Facebook. The youngest victim recorded was aged just two years old.

As part of its #WildWestWeb campaign the NSPCC has called for Mr Hancock to bring in an independent regulator for social networks with fining powers, a mandatory code which introduces safe accounts for children as well as mandatory transparency reports forcing social networks to disclose how many safety reports they get, and how they deal with those reports.

In May 2017 Welsh Education Secretary Kirsty Williams announced that the Welsh Government would create an online safety action plan for children and young people. NSPCC Wales is looking forward to its publication and calling on the Welsh Government to work jointly with the UK Government, to ensure children are better protected from harm online.

Des Mannion, head of NSPCC Cymru/Wales, said: “UK Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has a golden opportunity to put an end to the Wild West Web and force social networks to protect children online. Facebook has shown it is happy to use data for commercial purposes, but has failed to harness data in a way that can be used to prevent grooming.

“Facebook should be leading the way, but instead it has demonstrated time and again that self-regulation isn’t working and social networks can’t be left to mark their own homework. Mr Hancock could be the person who makes the internet a safer place, for every child now and in the future. We hope he seizes the chance to do that.”

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Newcastle Emlyn: Gay IT consultant convicted of stalking

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A GAY information technology consultant from Newcastle Emlyn has been convicted today of stalking an 18 year old youth causing him harassment.

Christopher Jay Hardy, aged 35, landed himself in more trouble when it was discovered that he had been recording on his mobile telephone virtually his entire trial at Swansea Crown Court.
Hardy, of Penlon, Pentrecagal, had denied the charge.
The jury had heard how Hardy had met the youth when he worked at a garage.
The youth told the jury how he quit his job to escape Hardy’s unwanted attentions.
But Hardy tracked him down to his home in Pencader, left unwanted gifts and letters on his car and repeatedly visited his home despite being told to stay away by his parents.
Hardy continued to try and contact the youth even after police had arrested him and at one stage attended his home pretending to be canvassing for the Labour Party.
The youth said he was not gay and had been “freaked out” by Hardy’s pursuit of him.
Hardy admitted he had become infatuated with the youth and said he believed he was under pressure from his family to pretend he was straight.
After the jury returned a unanimous verdict of guilty Judge Paul Thomas told Hardy, who represented himself, he was “deluded” and briefly sent him into custody because he refused to shut up and listen.
He was made to delete the audio files in front of a police officer.
Hardy will be sentenced after reports have been prepared by a psychiatrist and a probation officer and was granted bail until then.
Judge Thomas described him as an “obsessive individual” and warned him that all sentencing options would be open to the court.
He issued a restraining order preventing Hardy from contact in the youth or his parents by any means.
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Carer accused of ill-treatment of a patient

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A CARER from Carmarthen is to stand trial accused of ill-treating a patient.

Joaquím Moreira, aged 47, appeared before Judge Geraint Walters at Swansea Crown Court for a plea and trial preparation hearing.

Moreira, of Water Street, is accused of ill trill-treatment having the care of a person lacking the capacity to look after himself.

Moreira is also accused of assaulting the man by beating.

He denied both accusations.

Moreira will stand trial on March 19 and was granted bail until then.

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Popular inn sold to local businessman

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THE SALE of The Nag’s Head Inn, the riverside pub situated in North Pembrokeshire, to a local businessman was recently completed by business property advisers Christie & Co.

Situated on the banks of the Afon Cych, close to the Carmarthenshire and Ceredigion borders, The Nag’s Head occupies a substantial stone-built property, which was sympathetically extended in the 1980s and recently refurbished by the previous owners in 2017 to provide a spacious and welcoming interior, with flagstone floors, wood burning stoves and beamed ceilings.

The pub comprises four trading areas across the ground floor, including a main bar, a cosy snug and extensive dining areas, and a beer garden, which provides stunning views over the river. Additionally, the property benefits from three en suite guest bedrooms and three bedroom owner’s accommodation on the first floor.

Over the years, the previous owner has grown and developed a strong local and regional reputation for The Nag’s Head, which was selected as one of the ‘Top 10 UK Riverside Pubs’ in The Guardian in June 2017 and has been awarded a Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, while also maintaining a 4.5 rating and excellent reviews on the review website.

Following three years of ownership, previous owner, Mr Miller has decided to sell The Nag’s Head to move onto new business ventures. He said: “We have enjoyed our time at the property and have invested a lot of time and effort in to turning the business around and are looking forward to focusing on our other business interests.”

New owner, Mr Dewi Davies, who also owns the nearby award-winning holiday complex, Clydey Cottages, is looking forward to taking over the reins of The Nag’s Head and putting his own stamp on the business. Mr Davies commented: “I am delighted to be taking over the Nag’s Head from Steve and Tracy Miller. They have done a marvellous job over the past two years, building the reputation both locally and nationally, and we have inherited a great team. For the time being, it’s business as usual for the festive season and we are all excited about the future for the Nag’s Head.”

Corrina Jones, Senior Business Agent at Christie & Co’s Cardiff office, handled the sale and said: “The Nag’s Head Inn is a well maintained public house with a warm and inviting atmosphere. I would like to wish Mr Miller all the best with his new business ventures. I look forward to seeing the business go from strength to strength under the new ownership of Mr Davies and wish him all the best for the future.

“The market remains strong for well established businesses in South Wales. 2018 has proven to be one of our busiest years in relation to completions within the region, and we are seeing no slowdown in the market to date.”

The Nag’s Head was sold off a guide price of £495,000 for the freehold interest.

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