Police are raising awareness of the importance of online safety after a Luton man pleaded guilty to several online child sex offences.
Jacob Freckleton, 28, a railway engineer from Luton, pleaded guilty to five counts of making indecent images of a child and three counts of inciting a girl under the age of 13 to engage in sexual activity at an appearance at Luton Crown Court on Monday (20 November).
Freckleton targeted three young girls online and struck up a rapport with them, before encouraging them to send him indecent images and videos of themselves, as well as sending them indecent images of himself, calling it a game of “dirty dares”.
His offending was brought to the attention of police after the mother of one of the children checked her daughter’s phone and found the images.
This is just one of a number of cases that the Bedfordshire Police Internet Child Abuse Investigation Team (ICAIT) has dealt with recently where sexual predators have used social media to encourage children to share indecent images.
ICAIT Investigation Officer Paul Baddeley said: “There is absolutely no excuse for Freckleton’s sickening behaviour and I’m pleased that his victims will not have to face the trauma of a trial now that he has pleaded guilty.
“This case is a reminder of just how important it is that we educate children on how they can protect themselves online. This includes not talking to anyone who they don’t know in real life, not sharing any personal information, and keeping privacy settings as high as possible.
“We’d advise parents to have a conversation with their children about online safety, and make sure that they feel comfortable in speaking about anything they see online which makes them feel uncomfortable.”
Bedfordshire Police works closely with the Lucy Faithfull Foundation to help tackle and prevent child sexual abuse and recommends adults teach the SMART rules to their children:
Secrets - these can be good fun, but if they make us sad or confused it’s best to check them out with Mum or Dad or someone else you trust.
Mates - take someone with you when you are going somewhere and stay together.
Always tell your parents, carer or someone else you trust where you are going, who you are with and when you will be back.
Respect your body and remember it is private. No one has the right to touch you on your private areas (those covered by your swim suit).
Tell your parents, carer or someone else you trust if someone or something makes you feel uncomfortable or frightened.
You can visit the Parents Protect website, which is run by the Lucy Faithfull Foundation, for lots of useful resources for parents to help prevent child sexual abuse. It also contains a list of organisations and resources focusing on keeping children safe in the digital world.
The NSPCC Share Aware website also contains advice and tips about how children can keep themselves safe online.
To report concerns around child sexual abuse call police on 101.