THE risks children and young people face when they use the internet and social media have been highlighted by police at a keynote conference in St Helens on Thursday,  July 3. 

The conference was organised by the St Helens Safeguarding Children's Board in conjunction with St Helens Council.

More than 100 delegates from organisations including Merseyside Police, the NSPCC, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, schools and voluntary organisations gathered at Langtree Park.

They dealt with a range of issues facing young people, including cyberbullying, sexting, accessing online pornography and grooming and child sexual exploitation.

Detective Chief Inspector David McCaughrean, from the Matrix Serious Organised Crime Specialist Support and Interventions Unit, said: "The force has officers who are dedicated to tackling cybercrime in all its forms.

"When it's used properly, social media can bring massive benefits for education and the way young people interact with the world.

"However, it can also be used by criminals as a way of grooming and exploiting those who may be vulnerable.

"We'll be looking at the latest ways in which children and young people can stay safe when they're using the internet.

"Social media and the way it's used is always evolving but the force's approach continues to develop and I'll be reassuring people that when something happens online which is criminal, we have a specialist team of officers who will listen to victims, take them seriously and thoroughly investigate their claims."