Ann Coffey

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Stockport Express column, January 2018

As we begin 2018, I have been thinking about all the children who were born in the year 2000 and now coming up to age 18 –  and what their lives will be like in the future.

These young people, the millennium generation, have grown up in the exciting and challenging internet age. Social media has become their main source of news and their primary way of communicating – often capturing every moment of their lives on their phones, in tweets and snapchats for all the world to see.

We have always needed to have the skills to understand and assess information, but the growth of social media and the ability to reach millions of people in a second has made it more important than ever that children and young people know what is a fact and what is not. Helping children to understand and challenge information on social media and keep themselves safe online is crucially important if they are to grow up being able to use the internet in a positive way. There are also an increasing number of older adults using social media platforms like Facebook.

It is estimated that £7 million adults use online dating sites.

How can you tell whether a person who contacts you on social media or a dating website is actually who they say they are?

A constituent recently contacted me. He had his identity stolen by a man who used his photos to lure and deceive women on dating websites for several years. This is called catfishing. Using his image, the fraudster created over 40 fake profiles.  Many women seeking partners online were cruelly deceived into sharing images of themselves or parting with money.

Catfishing is not a crime. I spoke about this in Parliament. The government is consulting on a new Internet Safety Strategy and I would like to see a new law, making it illegal to create a false identity on the internet.

The world has been changed so much by social media, but governments can only do so much to protect us.  It is time for the internet giants to take more responsibility for verifying the identity of people who use their sites. They are making billions, and can well afford to invest in a safer internet for us all.

Drugs gangs targeting vulnerable children in Greater Manchester

17/01/2018

Drugs gangs targeting vulnerable children in Greater Manchester

Ann Coffey MP warned today that vulnerable children in Greater Manchester are being targeted by violent criminal gangs to transport and sell drugs across the country.

Speaking in a House of Commons adjournment debate on ‘County Lines’, Ms Coffey said that children in children’s homes and Pupil Referral Units were being groomed and used by gangs. She urged anyone who suspected this was happening in their community to report it to Greater Manchester Police.

Ms Coffey, the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Runaway and Missing Children and Adults, praised the GMP ‘Trapped Campaign’ which aims to raise awareness in communities and schools of the grooming of children to act as drug mules by criminal gangs.

Please find below a link to Ms Coffey’s speech that she gave during the debate.

County Lines Adjournment Debate January 17

Press Release 6th December – Ann Coffey visits national support line run from Stockport

 

Stockport MP Ann Coffey visited the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), whose national support line is based in Stockport.

NAPAC is a national charity which offers support to adults who suffered any type of childhood abuse – physical, sexual, emotional abuse or neglect.  NAPAC’s support line is totally confidential and is free from landlines and mobile phones is 0808 801 0331.

During her visit, Ann met some of the busy NAPAC volunteers, who receive extensive training before they take calls.  The demand for the survivor support line and e-mail support service has risen substantially over the past three years, with 89,960 call attempts last year.

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