I had intended to write about the menace of stolen motorbikes this week but two disturbing conversations changed my mind and I think you’ll agree with me why.
The first was with a cop pal who wanted to know why I’ve not highlighted “sextortion” yet as it’s on the rise in Scotland and is affecting a lot of people – mostly students and young folk.
Then a reader got in touch to ask if I knew anything about collector culture”?
Just as I was about to say he’d contacted the wrong kind of reporter, something clicked in my head, a snippet of a memory from a report I’d read that told me he wasn’t talking about trains or Picassos.
“It’s intimate pictures of women being shared like stamps by guys on group chats. Their own girlfriends or wives and they’re giggling away like schoolkids ogling over ‘dirty’ pictures. It’s disgusting and it’s an epidemic,” he said.
Two subjects but two sides of the same coin.
Collector culture has become so popular it’s been given a name – Image Based Sexual Abuse. In Scotland it falls under the “revenge porn” category and is a crime that can see you sent down for five years.
This isn’t pubescent boys tittering over some snaps of bikini models in magazines, this is grown men persuading their trusting partners to pose for intimate pictures so they can share and brag to the “boys” on WhatsApp.
If ever a term was so inappropriate under these circumstances it’s revenge porn – it’s not about revenge or porn.
It’s about humiliation and control, a sense of entitlement and sexual bravado by men who think that sharing intimate pictures of their partner is a badge of honour.
The reader told me: “I’m in various groups on WhatsApp – footballing mates, pub mates and work mates.
“Dozens of guys, and in every single one of them at least once a week someone is sharing a picture of their current partner, or they’ve been on a date and got the girl so inebriated she’s posed up and has no idea she’s being dissected, discussed, pored over in a group chat. It’s brutal and almost all of the men think it’s funny.
“Any who feel uncomfortable with it just keep quiet and go along with it so their mates don’t think they’re soft.” Can there be anything more soul-destroying than discovering someone you trust has broken a sacred rule in the relationship game?
We need more men to speak up as to why this type of crime cannot be tolerated, and perhaps a timely reminder that sharing that snap of their missus without her permission could land them on the sex offenders’ register.
Daniel Perry was a lovely 17-year-old boy who killed himself after falling victim to online sexual blackmailers in 2013.
Daniel believed he was talking to a girl of his own age via Skype and was encouraged to perform sexually on webcam before the criminals, three men from the Philippines, threatened to make the video public unless he paid them.
Sextortion is a horrible crime that can drive victims to extreme measures and breakdowns.
Social media is fueling the rise in Scotland, particularly among vulnerable young people who are lonely and perhaps away from home for the first time.
My cop pal left a stark warning ringing in my ears.
“It’s distressing when you realize that actions you thought were private are now a threat against you.
“The threat of public humiliation is terrifying.
“We cannot allow another Daniel Perry but at times we feel powerless because the scammers are all over the world.
“All we can do is ask people to remember that online not everyone is who they say they are – and to be sure before you engage in intimate behavior that you know and trust this person implicitly.”
Beware of scanners cashing in on Ukraine donations
Scammers are trying to cash in on the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine by taking advantage of people who want to help.
I’ve seen a few warnings from police on donation scams and spoof websites that cleverly look like those registered charities and fundraising sites.
Do take care and do some research before you part with your hard-earned cash.
Scammers have no heart so they don’t care about the poor souls in Ukraine, or you.
They just want your money in any way they can get it.
Get well shout-out to fellow columnist Tam Cowan who has been ill this week.
Tam recently came up with the bright idea of swapping columns for a week.
I suggested heavy-duty crime might not be his area of expertise.
In typical Cowan fashion, he quipped: “Not the first time one of my columns has had the reader thinking ‘murder’.”
Saying nothing pal, saying nothing.
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