Midlothian sextortion sees digital world made police priority

Tuesday February 7th 2023


Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Marie Sharp

Concern over the continued rise of sextortion cases in Midlothian has led police to change their top priority for the county to include the digital world.

Local area commander James Robertson says protecting vulnerable people from cyber criminals is now part of the force’s number one aim in Midlothian.

He told a meeting of Midlothian Police, Fire and Rescue Board that concern about the blackmailers who targeted people online was included in the local policing plan which is currently out for public consultation.

Inspector Robertson said: “We have a continued proactive approach to warning against the dangers of sextortion scams. This is where an individual is befriended by someone online and encouraged to share explicit images before being blackmailed by the perpetrators.

“This new emerging crime type is reflected in our draft of the local policing plan where we have amended our first priority to protecting vulnerable people in the physical and digital world.

“That reinforces our commitment to tackling cyber crime.”

The top priority previously was ‘Protecting the most vulnerable people’.

Last year the board was warned of a worrying increase in sextortion cases involving young people which was being reported by their parents.

At the time the local area commander said the blackmail was “often perpetrated overseas and very challenging to detect.”.

He said: “Our messaging remains the same, sometimes the people you meet online are not who they say they are. We want people to be aware of the risks and stay safe online and if there has been an incident, to have the confidence to report it to police.”

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