Online crimes against children rise by nearly 80 per cent in Dubai

Police record more than 2,600 instances of cybercrime over three year period

FILE PHOTO: A man holds a laptop computer as cyber code is projected on him in this illustration picture taken on May 13, 2017. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Illustration/File Photo
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The number of cybercrimes committed against children in Dubai rose by nearly 80 per cent in a year, new figures have shown.

Police in the emirate said 52 cases of online crimes targeting youngsters were recorded in 2018, up from 29 in 2017.

Maj Gen Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansouri, assistant commander-in-chief of Dubai’s criminal investigations, said electronic crime had become a global problem.

He added it was critical that both parents and authorities did their upmost to ensure children were protected from the dangers of the internet.

“Electronic crimes being carried out from thousands of miles away are a global threat,” he said.

“It requires a collective effort of innovative solutions so that criminals are left one step behind at all times.”

Maj Gen Al Mansouri revealed Dubai police had handled a total of 2,606 cybercrimes over the three years to 2018.

Of those, 1,406 cases involved electronic fraud, 711 pertained to computer hacking, 374 consisted of threats of blackmail and 115 were against children.

Maj Gen Al Mansouri said his officers were constantly developing ways to fight online crime as well as improving methods for the public to report it.

He said police were not only experienced in detecting and investigating cybercrimes, but were also trained in providing appropriate support for victims, including children.

“Children’s statements are taken in dedicated rooms in either hotels or shopping centres to safeguard them from the consequences of being victimised,” he said.

Brig Jamal Salem Al Jalaf, director of Dubai police’s criminal investigation unit, said public awareness campaigns were also key to the fight.

“The force is always posting awareness content on its social networking accounts,” he said.

“We are addressing the younger generation with modern and interesting ways of getting their attention.”

Police said that the number of recorded crimes against children included the case of a 16-year-old boy who was approached by an impostor claiming to be from a rich family.

“He tried to lure the teen [away] with money and expensive gifts but failed when the boy informed his father who advised him to report the case,” said captain Abdullah Al Shehhi.