Virtual reality videogames are to be used to teach members of the public how to recognise the signs of grooming, coercive control and vulnerability.
Award-winning Abertay University graduate team Pocket Sized Hands have worked with Northumbria Police to create three different games, which will be used in schools, colleges and at local events.
The games task players with identifying ‘red flags’, potential warning signs, during what at face value appears to be everyday scenarios.
They aim to encourage people to think more about what these signs look like, and about what they can do to keep others or themselves safe.
The developers worked closely with officers to make sure the programme was as realistic as possible.
The project was developed as part of Northumbria Police’s “It Could Be Nothing But…” campaign, raising awareness of vulnerability in day-to-day life.
Gary McCartan from Pocket Sized Hands said: “Virtual reality offers a novel opportunity to truly immerse yourself in a situation - you really feel like you’re somewhere else. It’s this depth of experience which makes it a great teaching tool.
“While you’ll enjoy the experience of being in a new virtual world, you also learn things that you can take forward into real life.
“We’ve had great feedback from Northumbria Police and there’s the potential that this could lead on to different projects looking at different scenarios within everyday life.”
Head of Safeguarding at Northumbria Police, Chief Superintendent Scott Hall, said: "Our aim is to get everyone thinking more about what vulnerability is and how we can all do our bit in society to help others who can't help themselves.
"We need the public to be our eyes and ears in the community and if something doesn't look or feel right, we need you to tell us so we can help."
To view the game trailer visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8LVENkDnyw
For more information about Pocket Sized Hands visit: https://pocketsizedhands.com/