illegal online activity

Image Credit: Salford Foundation

Salford is considered an education priority area with young people more vulnerable to illegal activity online, warns a charity.

Salford Foundation also found that young people in the city were in more need of online safety courses.

Around 20% of children aged 10-16 nationwide are engaging in illegal online activity that violates the Computer Misuse Act, according to the National Crime Agency.

Salford Foundation runs the Positive Action Project with support from Ofcom, which aims to teach young people how to use the internet in positive ways. Ofcom’s funding of the project ran from November 2022 and ends this month (February).

John Damen, operations manager at the foundation, said that “young people (of Salford) are more susceptible to being involved”. Similarly they are “more vulnerable to grooming and radicalisation”.

The Computer Misuse Act outlines activities that are illegal online. Examples of these offences include, downloading software to access someone else’s device, attempting to access a protected server or purchasing games or in-game currency using someone else’s saved card details.

This can progress into more serious offences which may face severe consequences.  Young people might commit these offences without knowing the consequences, also risking their futures in the process, the NCA survey found.

Mr Damen said the project was “built around misinformation, disinformation, grooming, online safeguarding and cyber bullying”.

He noted: “The young people we worked with were very tech savvy and fluent at navigating online already, but were unable to spot risk factors.”

OFcom Salford Foundation illegal
Positive Action Project Logo. Credit: Salford Foundation

Violation of the Computer Misuse Act can lead to arrests and a criminal record. The offender may also have their phone or computer taken away from them as well as risking expulsion from school, internet restrictions and affected career opportunities and international travel.

A big issue in Salford is parents being unable to help their children in this area. Mr Damen said that a lot of “parents don’t know how to protect their young people online” causing many to lean on schools to educate their children in online safety.

This is dangerous, as many teachers are not qualified to teach this. According to a 2023 BBC survey, 67% of parents feel concerned about the content their children is accessing online.


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