Police and Crime Commissioner supports digital resources for people with learning difficulties

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall attended the online launch of Carlisle Mencap ‘Keeping Safe Online’ digital resource packs last week, as supported by his Community Covid19 Recovery Fund. Carlisle Mencap were recently awarded £4,700 for a project to produce a variety of easy and accessible online advice packs and workshops for people with learning difficulties.

Keeping safe online can be a challenge for anyone. For people with learning difficulties and carers, education around potential dangers and risks, delivered in an easily understandable way, is crucial to safeguarding people from becoming victims and also, unwittingly, perpetrators.

Peter McCall comments:

“The vast majority of support mechanisms for vulnerable people have been disrupted with various day centres and community centres still closed. Vulnerable people living at home with families or in supported living are withdrawing into their bedrooms with their computers as their only friend, with all the associated risks. Also, many of those who live alone in the community, have no access to their support mechanisms and are totally at risk of online abuse. At the launch, I was appalled to hear some of the accounts of abuse aimed at people because of their disability, it’s cowardly, unwarranted and unacceptable.

“I have found working with Mencap one of the most rewarding aspects of my time as PCC as I have seen the contribution that everyone can make, given the opportunity and a little support to empower and unlock their creative potential. I am so pleased we’ve been able to help in a small way.

“The ‘Keeping Safe’ project has produced 5 easy and accessible digital workshops covering topics such as online crime, fraud/theft, sexual abuse and exploitation, hate/mate crime and fire safety. They are available to anyone and have been designed to use either on your own or with groups of people online and it’s great to see the members from Carlisle Mencap involved in so much of the design and production.

“Everyone with any online presence could be a target, so it’s essential that we all learn to protect ourselves and become tech-savvy. The most important thing is to be alert and always remember to stop, think and challenge any requests for personal information or financial details.”

Sheila Gregory, CEO at Carlisle Mencap comments: “This project is intended to give people vital support and the help from the PCC has been essential in creating these resources. The last year has been incredibly difficult for people with learning disability. With day and community services closed, many people have been cut off from their usual sources of support in the community and this has left them lonely and vulnerable to crime.”

Detective Inspector Ian Harwood lead at Cumbria Constabulary’s specialist cyber and digital crime unit comments: “In this day and age, most of us use some kind of digital device in our everyday lives or have an online presence. If you shop online, use social media or use email to communicate, you could fall victim to an online criminal if you do not take care.

“Website such as www.getsafeonline.org and the National Cyber Security Centre’s website at www.ncsc.gov.uk have plenty of advice for people to protect themselves.

The six top tips for keeping secure online include:

1.Use a strong and separate password for your email

2.Create strong passwords using three random words

3.Save your passwords in your browser

4.Turn on two-factor authentication (2FA)

5.Update your devices

6.Back up your data

“In addition, be aware of suspicious or unexpected emails and never click on any links or attachments. Never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for personal or financial details.

“When shopping online, if you’re making a purchase from a company or person you don’t know or trust, carry out research first and ask a friend or family member for advice. Protect your devices from the latest threats and always install the latest software and app updates.”

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