POLICE have issued a warning about school children in Derbyshire being approached by a Facebook user who has set up a false account under the name of Amy Cook.
Derbyshire Police are looking into reports of male students being approached by the user of the profile, who sends friend requests and asks users to send pictures.
Parents of pupils at Queen Elizabeth’s Grammar School in Ashbourne were sent a letter warning them of the issue and asking them to report any suspicious online activity.
It reads: “It has come to our attention that a person under a false name (currently Amy Cook) may have approached a number of male students in Derbyshire on Facebook, sending them friend requests and subsequently asking for pictures to be sent.
“The police are aware of this person and are taking the appropriate action.
“Could we ask you to remind your child not to accept friend requests from anyone they don’t know of from anyone they assume they know.
“If an Amy Cook has attempted to befriend your child, then this should be reported both to the police and to the school, as should any concerns relating to e-safety.”
Ashbourne Police confirmed they were investigating the matter and issued advice about monitoring youngsters on social networking websites.
Ashbourne’s Sergeant Denis Murphy said: “My advice would certainly be to ask parents to ask themselves how confident they are about what their children know about online safety.
“It’s difficult nowadays, children are much more computer savvy than we ever were and as a result they may be getting themselves in to dangerous situations or getting in contact with dangerous individuals.
“Parents have a responsibility to keep their eye on this and the website getsafeonline.org is a great place to visit to understand the dangers.
“I would also tell parents not to be afraid to be intrusive, it’s always going to cause friction if you approach them about their online activity but it’s better to have that conversation now rather than at the end of a situation where a young person has been in contact with a criminal.”
Sergeant Murphy said the force is taking the growing issue of online safety seriously and has teams working on tackling a new breed of criminals.
He said: “There is a huge amount of risk online for young people, and especially on social networks. It’s a very worrying area and one criminals are increasingly exploiting.
“We as a force are constantly evolving to try and counter the threat but it’s a constant battle.
“I think it’s good that schools are being proactive in their approach.”