Rutland’s pioneering ‘cyber beat’ police officer has enjoyed a busy first two weeks in the job – and has already helped many members of the public.
During a three-month trial PCSO Matt McDade – who has worked for Leicestershire Police for the past four years – will be available at a click of a button to chat with residents online, via Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms.
As previously reported in the Mercury, he will be performing the role of a traditional neighbourhood officer – but online instead of up and down the street.
Leciestershire Police has stressed the purpose is not to replace traditional, physical policing, but instead to provide an “alternative and additional community service”.
PCSO McDade told the Mercury that during his first couple of weeks in the job he has interacted with many Rutland residents online – and offered help and advice on a range of subjects.
He said: “There have been a good mix of enquiries so far – from concerns for the welfare of a family living rough, to reports of inconsiderate parking and requests from schools and youth groups for me to go and talk about my work and staying safe online.
“Many people have said they like the convenience of being able to send a quick message online – rather than having to call 101 or visit a police station.
“In an emergency, Rutland residents should still call 999 – but for less urgent enquiries, there’s a lot I can either help with personally, or direct them to someone else who can do so.”
As well as dealing with traditional crimes and real-world problems, PCSO McDade is also trained to offer advice on staying safe from cyber crimes such as phishing, grooming and child sexual exploitation.
He said: “Phishing – where members of the public are sent messages which attempt to trick them into handing over personal details and money – is still a problem.
“More experienced web users may be more alert to the dangers, but more and more people are using the internet – including older people – and sometimes they aren’t quite so up to speed on that and can fall prey to scammers.
“These messages tend to come in waves, and another part of my job is making sure people are aware of scams which are doing the rounds.”
PCSO McDade is monitoring his social media accounts from 7am to 10pm.
He can be found by searching for PCSO Matt McDade on Facebook, on Twitter @LPDigitalMatt or send an email to matthew.mcdade@ leicestershire.pnn.police.uk