Parents are being urged to look out for signs of online grooming with children spending more time on their computers and mobile phones during the Covid-19.
Online predators often use a fake profile, known as “catfishing”, or bribe young people using desirable objects such as money, toys and electronics.
Parents who know that a stranger is contacting their child online or of someone contacting underage children should report it to 101 or anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “During the lockdown everyone is spending more time indoors and online, including criminals.
“Criminals are adapting with the changes in technology and using it to their advantage to enter homes and bank accounts without leaving the comfort of their home – we all need to be more vigilant about who and what we trust online.
“For younger children, I would also recommend parents check their child’s online activity to understand what they are accessing and ensuring they are on child friendly sites and apps. I would encourage parents to speak to their children and teenagers about online safety and to remind them to never speak to a stranger online.
“Online grooming is a very serious and real issue that the Police deal with so it’s essential we all do our best to make sure our children are safe,” he added.
All reports will be taken seriously. For more information on online safety visit https://www.getsafeonline.org/ or for more information on online grooming visit https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-is-child-abuse/types-of-abuse/grooming/