Five times more internet crime in the West Midlands

Children using a laptop The first Safer Internet Day was held in 2003

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The number of reported crimes committed over the internet in the West Midlands has increased fivefold in four years.

In 2012 West Midlands Police received almost 500 reports of online crime compared to 100 in 2008.

Sgt Andy Gregory, who works in crime reduction, said all forces have experienced a decade of "playing catch-up" with internet misuse.

The figures have been released to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Safer Internet Day.

Sgt Gregory said: "One of the first big cases was around indecent images of young children a decade ago and in the UK every police force got involved in that and it was a matter of playing catch-up and realising what the internet was being used for.

BBC Local Live

BBC Local Live

"Each force has now got its own child protection team and organisations are working together to try to protect young people, not just on sexual offending matters and grooming but also bullying."

For Safer Internet Day, the BBC has launched a "Share Take Care" campaign to highlight the risks of sharing information online.

Luke, eight, is taking part in the campaign's education activities at Chasetown Community School in Staffordshire.

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She lived her life through a social media site so we... used some of the things she'd been saying over the last 18 months to defend our case”

End Quote Lee Thomas Company director

He said: "People would actually send messages to you saying swear words and things and pictures that might upset you.

"Once someone found out what my cat looked like and put [a picture of] my cat in the stocks and people were throwing knives at it. I deleted the files and told my mum."

Online evidence

Lee Thomas, managing director of Aesthetics Events Management in Coventry, said: "We had an incident recently where a member of staff lodged a tribunal against us and put claims in we knew were not true.

"We knew she lived her life through a social media site so we went on that site and used some of the things she'd been saying over the last 18 months to defend our case.

"To use that was crucial to us winning the case against her."

The BBC has published a number of guides online, advising social media users to provide minimum information online and use privacy settings.

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