Sextortion (Awareness)

First Minister’s Question Time – in the Scottish Parliament am ar 16 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Evelyn Tweed Evelyn Tweed Scottish National Party

To ask the First Minister what steps the Scottish Government is taking to raise awareness of the issue of sextortion, in light of the recent issuing of an urgent warning by the National Crime Agency to education providers across the United Kingdom. (S6F-03117)

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

Keeping children and young people safe from sexual abuse and exploitation, including sextortion, is a priority for the Scottish Government.

We welcome the efforts of the National Crime Agency to raise awareness of that serious harm. We, too, are raising awareness of the risk of sextortion and have provided information to parents and carers on the Parent Club website, which is currently being promoted via social media. Police Scotland is also updating sextortion resources on its website to reflect the new National Crime Agency guidance.

We will continue to work closely with national and UK partners, including the Internet Watch Foundation, Police Scotland, the National Cyber Security Centre and the Cyber and Fraud Centre Scotland, to tackle cybercrime, including sextortion scams.

Photo of Evelyn Tweed Evelyn Tweed Scottish National Party

Murray Dowey from Dunblane tragically took his own life in December after falling victim to sextortion via Instagram. That young man, with his whole life ahead of him, was just 16 years old. Murray’s loss is felt widely in the community, and many are asking how they can protect young people online. Will the First Minister outline the steps that the Scottish Government can take to ensure that social media sites take the safeguarding of young people seriously and, when things go wrong, co-operate fully with the authorities?

Photo of John Swinney John Swinney Scottish National Party

I thank Evelyn Tweed for raising that important case. I have watched with incredible admiration the courage of Ros and Mark Dowey in talking about their beloved son, Murray. As the parent of a teenager, I cannot comprehend the scale of loss and the unimaginable suffering that they are experiencing, but I commend their bravery in raising awareness of the threat of sextortion, which has had such a terrible impact on their family.

The Government will continue to prioritise working closely with national and United Kingdom partners to protect children and young people from sexual abuse and exploitation through our membership of Police Scotland’s multi-agency group on preventing online child sexual abuse. In the coming weeks, ministers in the Government will meet the Ofcom board member for Scotland to discuss the implementation of the UK Government’s important online safety legislation, on which we, as a Government, have been deeply engaged. We must all take the efforts that we can to raise awareness of this important issue, to ensure that families and young people are supported to deal with the threats that now exist in our society.

I commend the bravery of Ros and Mark Dowey. They have my deepest sympathy for the loss that they have experienced, and the commitment of my Government to do all that we can to protect young people from crimes such as sextortion and the incalculable suffering that those crimes can inflict on families in our country.