Greater Manchester Police Pokemon Go Advice

15 July 2016, 14:59

It started as a TV show, then a trading card game, but now Pokemon Go is leading the way in smartphone gaming.

Since Nintendo released the game in other parts of the world they've seen their share price rise by more than 50% due to its popularity, already having more daily users than Candy Crush.

It uses what's called 'augmented reality' where using the camera on your smartphone, it adds the Pokemon characters to look as if they're walking down the road or sitting the desk in front of you.  If you're familiar with the cartoons or the old card game you'll know the objective is to 'catch them all' and then use your characters in a form of 'top trumps'.

To catch them though, means walking around and also to 'Pokestops' or 'beacons' in local areas where players can get together to play the game, and it's this feature that has been worrying charities like the NSPCC because according to them: "basic safety standards appear to have been overlooked"

Chief Executive Peter Wanless has written to developer Niantic. He said: "I urge you to urgently reassess your app and its security and safety features.  "We all have a responsibility to ensure that children are protected and as creators of a game with substantive reach, you have a weighty responsibility to protect your young users.''

Greater Manchester Police are also urging parents and teachers to talk to children about staying safe.  Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson, from GMP’s public protection division, said: “We know that criminals move quickly to exploit the latest developments to target victims and Pokemon Go will already be in their sights. 

These worries do come from experience with reports out of other parts of the world of people being targetted by criminals using the app.  DS Rawlinson agrees.  "I would urge parents to speak to their children about the app and the best ways to make sure they stay safe. Talking to your child is one of the best ways to keep them safe."  There are also fears from police it could be used for child sexual exploitation. 

Greater Manchester Police are giving this advice to users.

  • Be cautious about alerting strangers to where you will be in future. 
  • Be careful where you leave ‘beacons’
  • Parents, supervise children when using the app
  • Always pay attention to your surroundings, especially in built up areas
  • Where possible play with friends and stay in a group
  • Avoid playing near roads
  • Play at home – You can use lures to attract Pokémon to you
  • Keep your device safe
  • You can still play with your phone out of site, it will vibrate when a Pokémon is near.
  • Don’t play while driving