Parents have been informed that a man has been targeting more than 200 children at 30 schools in Northern Ireland on the social media platform Snapchat.
One of the schools affected, the all-girls Glenlola Collegiate Grammar in Bangor, Co Down, released a statement to warn of the dangers of online grooming but also reassure the school community that in this case the PSNI had apprehended the individual concerned.
It said: “The PSNI have been in contact with the school to inform us that a man has been in communication with approximately 200 pupils from 30 schools via Snapchat using the name ‘pastpapersolutions’.
“He has been arrested and therefore no longer poses a risk but we feel it is important to remind everyone that they must be extremely cautious online when using social networking sites.
“Our advice is that if your daughter has been in contact with this individual they should block this immediately. Further advice and guidance is available from the school internet policy available on the school website.”
Snapchat is a mobile app that allows users to send and receive ‘self-destructing’ photos and videos called ‘snaps’ and Snapchat uses the device’s camera to capture snaps and send them.
The PSNI told the Belfast Telegraph on Friday that the man involved in the case was before the courts and charged with breaching an order by using the social media app to contact school children.
A spokesman said: “A man who had been given a Sexual Offences Prevention Order breached the order by contacting school pupils on Snapchat.
“The man was arrested and charged and appeared at Belfast Magistrates Court on 6th December and remanded. Police made schools aware and are sending out letters to parents.”
It is not the first time in recent months that the PSNI have had to taken action regarding schools and the Snapchat social networking app.
It comes after last month the PSNI warned children and parents over “inappropriate” and “threatening” Snapchat accounts that are being set up with fake details.
Police in Co Tyrone said that they had received reports from various schools and parents in Omagh regarding the accounts.
A PSNI spokesman said at the time: “All Snapchat details have been collected regarding these fake accounts and police will be conducting investigations given the concern across the community.
“Police are keen to remind children and parents who use social media sites to be mindful of who they are friends with online and for parents to keep an eye on their children’s online activity.”
Glenlola Collegiate Grammar was also contacted by the Belfast Telegraph on Friday to ask them if they wished to say anything further in relation to the matter but they declined to take up the offer.