Police crackdown on child grooming in new crime plan
West Midlands Police has launched a "renewed focus" on online child grooming as part of a new plan of support during the coronavirus crisis.
The force has been tasked with keeping on top of the spike in grooming cases resulting from the increase in time young people are spending on the internet while at home.
The plan, which was put together by the region's PCC David Jamieson, has been described as "a blueprint" for the force's response to Covid-19 by WMP Chief Constable Dave Thompson.
It also includes a pledge to crackdown on domestic abuse – including offering more support for victims, and to put more PCSOs on the beat to assist frontline bobbies.
The force has also vowed that criminals targeting key workers such as NHS staff will be dealt with "robustly".
Mr Jamieson said the plan would ensure the force has the support it needs as it adapts to the "new threats" that emerge during the crisis.
"Our officers and staff are dealing under huge pressure and will increasingly be exposed to distressing situations," he said.
"That is why one of the key objectives of this plan is to ensure they have the support they need during and after the crisis, including counselling if they require it.
"Crime is changing as a result of the coronavirus, it is not going away.
"People are unfortunately targeting NHS and retail staff – this will not be tolerated.
"I am also worried about domestic abuse, with people spending more time at home.
"This will be prioritised and I will be working with the support charities I commission to ensure people can access those vital services.
"I am also particularly worried about a higher prevalence of online grooming with young people spending more time on the internet. I expect the force to work with national agencies to tackle this threat."
He added: "The absolute top priority remains working with the public to ensure people continue to stay at home. This requires a pragmatic and sensitive policing style."
Mr Thompson, said: "I welcome this plan. It acts as a blueprint for the response to coronavirus for West Midlands Police and is what I will be held to account to deliver.
"I am committed to ensuring we continue to have a resilient force that works with other agencies to help the public through these incredibly difficult times."