Belfast Telegraph

Police probe online grooming of youth footballers in Belfast

By Mark Edwards

A youth football club in north Belfast has claimed some of its players have been victims of attempted online grooming.

In a message on Facebook, St Patrick's Football club alleged some of their children had been approached online by a man posing as a 14-year-old girl.

The club alleged the person had been chatting with boys at the club through Facebook and Instagram and had asked for inappropriate photos.

After deleting the original message, St Patrick's posted a further message yesterday, which said: "Regarding our earlier post about online grooming we have been advised by police to take the article down as it is still an ongoing investigation.

"It was viewed by over 14,000 people before it was deleted so hopefully the message will get through to young people.

"As a club we take our kids' safety as the utmost and will be bringing in local agencies to talk to all our players and parents regarding online safety.

"Each and every coach and committee member in our club has recently under gone renewed safeguarding training but parents must take a more positive input in their kids online activity. Stay safe online."

The BBC has reported officers from the National Crime Agency (NCA) arrived in Northern Ireland yesterday to speak to some of those who have been allegedly targeted online.

The NCA has arrested a man in England as part of the investigation.

The man has since been released on bail, but the investigations are ongoing.

Detectives from the PSNI's child internet protection team are understood to be providing assistance to officers from the NCA as they carry out their investigation.

St Patrick's Football Club caters for boys and girls aged five to 19-years-old.

Belfast Telegraph

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