SCHOOLS are being supported to protect children from online dangers.

A police-led Bradford District Cyber Team is staging awareness-raising initiatives and events, to help both schools and parents.

The PCSO team – comprising Izac Spencer, Sergeant Adam Taylor, Luke Carson, Samina Potrick, Samia Arif, Sergeant Rajwinder Driver, Joanne Cato and Michael Wright – is based at Lawcroft House police station in Bradford, but works across the district.

It was initially set-up as a pilot scheme in 2015, and has proved hugely successful.

The team works predominantly with primary school children, ranging in age from seven to 11.

It visits more than 150 schools as part of its work, but is also keen on parental involvement.

"Cyber crime is the fastest-growing crime type," said Sgt Taylor.

"The team keeps well informed of new and emerging trends so that we can raise awareness among young people."

Sexting is an example of the type of crime the team is seeing, as is the sharing of indecent images – something officers are striving to prevent as part of their awareness efforts.

"Young people may think their snap will only be seen by the people they share it with – yet the ripple effect from it being shared beyond that network doesn't bear thinking about," said Sgt Taylor.

A school computing lead, Claire Partington, said cyber awareness sessions were introduced at her school due to the number of children now with access to the internet and the "ever-growing risk of danger in the virtual world".

She added: "We feel that our pupils need to be conscious of this when accessing apps, social media, playing online games etc.

"A lot of pupils were unaware of the potential dangers the cyber world can lead to before we had the sessions run by West Yorkshire Police.

"We need to let our pupils know how fantastic the internet is but also to ensure they are aware of the potential dangers, and what to do if they are ever concerned."

West Yorkshire's Police and Crime Commissioner, Mark Burns-Williamson, said keeping communities safe online was a priority.

And he praised the work of the cyber team.

"We've all heard stories about cyber crime or know people who have been affected – whether that's someone stealing financial details online, online harassment or the recent ransomware attacks on the health service and businesses for example," he said.

"A really important tool in the fight against this crime is having the awareness of how to keep safe and take preventative action, and that's where the Bradford cyber PCSOs come in.

"They are having a phenomenal impact in Bradford district but also across West Yorkshire, and I'd like to say a big thank-you for their hard work and dedication."