YOUNG VOICES

Kayleigh Haywood Film Prompts Dozens Of Children To Report Online Grooming, Say Police

More than 5 million people have watched 'Kayleigh's Love Story'.

06/01/2017 15:45 GMT | Updated 06/01/2017 16:33 GMT

Dozens of children have come forward with reports that they are being groomed online after watching a video based on the tragic murder of 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood, police say. 

The schoolgirl was raped and killed in 2015 just two weeks after she began talking to a stranger on Facebook. 

The five-minute video, made by Leicestershire Police, follows the last tragic days of Haywood’s life. 

Leicestershire Police/PA Archive
Kayleigh Haywood was raped and murdered in 2015 after meeting a man on Facebook 

The teenager was killed after meeting 28-year-old Luke Harlow on social media, where the pair exchanged thousands of messages.

When Haywood met Harlow at his flat along with his neighbour Stephen Beadman, the two men held her against her will for two days. 

While she was spotted fleeing the property in the early hours of the morning, Haywood was recaptured by Beadman, who took her across a road and raped her.

He then marched her to a field a mile and a half away, where he savagely beat the young girl to death.     

Leicestershire Police
The video follows the last tragic days of the teenage girl's life

Between September and December, “Kayleigh’s Love Story” was shown to 37,000 Leicestershire schoolchildren. 

According to police, 35 “disclosures” were made by children following these screenings. These incidents are now being investigated. 

Another 5.3 million people have watched the video since it was released online on Tuesday. 

Deputy Chief Constable Roger Bannister said he has been “overwhelmed” by the reaction to the film. 

“To have reached so many people and for the film to have been seen by so many in such a short space of time is remarkable,” he said. 

“It contains a really important message, a message for children and parents alike, and I believe it has the potential to keep many tens of thousands of children safe from the threat posed by predators online. I would urge everyone to watch it.”  

Lauren Hurley/PA Archive
Police want to end the grooming and exploitation of children that led to Haywood's death

Children’s charity the NSPCC has also backed the project, saying it is “vital” that as many children as possible learn about the dangers of online grooming and sexual exploitation so they can protect themselves. 

A spokesperson said: “This powerful film is undoubtedly helping to raise greater awareness of the dangers young people face every time they go online and the fact that viewers are now coming forward to report grooming demonstrates its crucial impact.” 

Between 2015 and 2016, Childline provided 3,716 counselling sessions about online sexual abuse - a 24% increase from the previous year. 

“Social networking sites must do more to safeguard young people by introducing better privacy settings, location controls for under-18s and safety reminders to children when they communicate with new users and before they send images,” the NSPCC spokesperson added.