WHAT started out as a routine training exercise has become a mission to crack down on internet predators for a Wetherby duo.
Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) Mick Driscoll and Jenn Cornes were put forward for a course on child internet protection by their former police chief Marcus Griffiths.
And now six years on the pair are in great demand from not just children’s groups and schools but their own peers to give advice on ways of stopping “groomers” who prey on children.
“To be honest the first couple of years after that training we didn’t do much with it,” said Mick.
“It has only been the last three years that we have pushed it.
“About 18 months ago Wetherby Lions donated a projector and speakers to take out with us to promote the message and that has helped a lot.”
The pair will soon be taking part in a multi force event in Ripon on child safety which will see about 2700 primary children taking part over two weeks.
But Mick admitted the talk that had made him the most nervous was given to his superiors in West Yorkshire.
“It was one of the few times that I was nervous.
“I was shaking because they were high ranking and more experienced but the detective inspector said that they had learned a lot because their work is about dealing with the aftermath and not the prevention side.”
Mick added that their main message was that the talks are not about causing alarm but about awareness.
“The internet and mobile phones have become part of our everyday lives,” he added.
“The majority of families now have a computer in their homes and use the internet to communicate with family and friends, finding out information, and for learning.
“Although these technologies offer a wealth of new experiences and possibilities, we need to be aware that they can be used inappropriately by men, women and young people who may have an inappropriate interest in children.”
And he added that quite often parents are not aware of what their children are doing on the internet.
The father of two grown up daughters said the message he is delivering means more to him as he is a parent himself.
“I try to make it as much fun as I can to keep the children’s attention but sometimes when I am speaking to adults I can feel myself getting emotional when I explain about these people.”
Anyone wanting the PCSOs give a talk should contact Mick Driscoll on email Michael.firstname.lastname@example.org