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Ubisoft partners with police to tackle toxic gaming

Northumbria Police has partnered with Ubisoft in a ground-breaking project to tackle toxic gaming in the online community.

Officers delivered training to the gaming company’s Player Support staff based at their global Customer Relationship Centre (CRC) in Newcastle to help them deal with severe reports of harmful interactions online and provide gamers with support.

From there, a new protocol was established on how reports should be escalated to police where there is a threat of serious harm. Staff are able to temporarily or permanently close accounts if players have breached a code of conduct, and are able to recommend Ubisoft start legal proceedings in extreme cases.

Officers are able to progress local cases, or raise reports with the relevant force either in the UK or overseas. One of the cases saw officers contact Norwegian law enforcement, which resulted in safeguarding action being taken.

This new training, which was developed by specialist Northumbria police officers in collaboration with Northumbria University, resulted in a small number of cases being referred each month.

The university will take the reins in the next part of the project, which will see the institution develop an online training package that can be accessed by other gaming companies. Other companies have similar set-ups already, but the unique part of this scheme is the involvement of local law enforcement.

The collaborations we have made is key to ongoing work with other organisations around the world

– Professor Gavin Oxburgh

Chief Superintendent Deborah Alderson, who led on the project for Northumbria Police, said: “Protecting the vulnerable is at the heart of everything we do – and while we can often physically see when someone is in need there are also people online who need support.

“We’re working very hard to develop this enhanced training as an online offering for similar entertainment and gaming companies around the world.

“This will help customer support staff within the gaming industry understand when there is a threat of harm to players within their community and know what action to take to effectively help keep them safe.”

Damien Glorieux, general manager at Ubisoft CRC added: “Our ultimate aim is to provide an inclusive gaming environment where everyone, anywhere in Ubisoft’s global community can have fun while feeling safe and respected. This collaboration allows us to perform that role more effectively without it infringing on players’ privacy due to strict data controls in place.

“The reporting protocol combined with the training programme developed in partnership with Northumbria University is a great step towards better equipping our Player Support teams when encountering such reports. We’re very proud of the collaboration and hope it will inspire others to follow suit to collectively support our players.”

Professor Gavin Oxburgh, Department of Social Sciences, who was involved with the development and delivery of the training together with Dr Phil Anderson, Department of Computer and Information Sciences, said: “We have collaborated with Northumbria Police on many projects for a number of years now and helping staff at Ubisoft understand and deal with vulnerable persons is absolutely vital.

“The collaborations we have made is key to ongoing work with other organisations around the world. We are delighted to be involved in such an innovative project.”


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