Dramatic Rise in Crime on the Internet; Police Reveal 488 E-Crimes in Six Months

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Byline: Ben Glaze

ONLINE crimes such as downloading child pornography, grooming youngsters for sex and stealing bank details have more than doubled in four years, figures revealed yesterday.

South Wales Police investigated 488 e-crimes in the first six months of this year, compared with 439 in the whole of 2005.

Plaid Cymru AM Chris Franks, who requested the statistics using freedom of information laws, said: "These figures illustrate once again the growing use of the internet by people like paedophiles and fraudsters.

'"It's important to know the extent of the problem and, therefore, raise awareness."

DR Over the past four years, South Wales Police's hi-tech crime unit probed 2,532 offences, of which 1,700 involved allegations of a sexual nature. were The Mr Franks, whose son fell victim to internet crime involving a bogus online ticket agency, said: "While the internet has transformed our lives, there are people using it to perpetuate fraud and forgery and other offences.

"My own son was a victim of a ticket scam so I have some experience of the impact of these crimes.

"So be careful and if it appears to be too good to be true, it almost certainly is."

The force's hi-tech crime unit manager, Paul Webb, said: "The rise in e-crimes investigated and detected by South Wales Police correlates with the increasing use of the internet and the work of the hi-tech crime unit in proactively targeting criminals hiding behind a computer screen.

"We recognise the very real impact e-crime can have on businesses and individuals.

"For example, criminals can target a computer or computer network to access information to steal from individuals or businesses, or clone business websites to commit fraud."

He added: "Child grooming online and child abuse images are a specific offence and one that we take very seriously and investigate robustly.

"We would advise parents to be vigilant when allowing their children access to the internet by actively monitoring the sites their children are visiting and be especially concerned about unsupervised sessions on 'chat rooms'. …