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Breck Bednar was a 14-year-old boy from Surrey who, like many boys of his age, loved technology and computer games and spent lots of time 'gaming', often playing against other online 'friends' as part of a wider virtual group.
He played games such as Battlefield and Call of Duty.
Breck came into contact with his murderer, Lewis Daynes, over the internet. Daynes ran an online server through which Breck and his friends played games.
Daynes used this platform to groom Breck and over the course of 13 months, forging an online “friendship” with the teenager, gradually coming between him and his family and friends by telling his a series of lies.
Daynes had promised Breck “great wealth” from a fictional computer business and managed to lure Breck to his flat on the premise of handing this business over to him.
On the16 February 2014, Breck went to Daynes’ flat in Essex, after lying to his family about where he was going.
The next day, Daynes called 999 claiming Breck had tried to take his own life, and while struggling to restrain him, he had accidentally stabbed him.
Daynes was charged with murder and pleaded guilty to the offence. He was sentenced in January 2015 to a minimum of 25 years in prison for Breck’s murder.
In December 2017, Leicestershire Police announced it was making a short film about Breck’s murder to help raise awareness among boys of the dangers of child sexual exploitation (CSE).
The project was being delivered as part of an innovative collaboration between Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Essex and Surrey police forces.
The film has been made with the active support of Breck’s mother Lorin LaFave, who appears as herself in the film and who set up the Breck Foundation shortly after her son’s tragic death in 2014.
It has been funded by Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach with additional contributions from Surrey Police.
Casting sessions were held in January 2018 and work on the film then began in earnest. As well as actors, the film also uses avatars to depict the online profiles used by Breck and his friends.
Once the first edit of the film was completed, a series of screenings with stakeholders, partners, practitioners and industry specialists took place in Leicestershire and the four other force areas. Feedback and observations from these screenings helped to shape the final version of the film.
As a result of the feedback, there are now two final edits of the film – one featuring a knife scene and one without. This is to cater for different age groups and to give schools and education providers the option of which film to deliver during planned lessons.
Breck's mother Lorin LaFave said: "Breck's story shows how easily grooming can happen. He met the predator through an online friendship group and would have been flattered to have an intelligent, older mentor helping him expand his gaming skills.
"At the time, I believed the offender was older than he was because he was so controlling and manipulative, even with me, so it’s important for young people to realise not only can predators lie about their age, where they live or who they are online, they can also be a similar age to the victim. They are not always the stereotypical ‘creepy old guy’.
"It's so important for us to raise awareness of the fact that boys can be groomed too. Breck’s came after international media surrounding the Rochdale and Rotherham cases, where the victims were all girls. His version wasn’t the ‘typical’ type of grooming people had heard about in the news. His story shows even regular school boys can make mistakes if they aren't educated to recognise the signs of grooming and exploitation.
"I hope through the Breck’s Last Game campaign, young people will take on the real life lessons from Breck’s story so they are able to look after each other, keep safe, and reach their full potentials. Our intention is to educate young people so they are empowered to make safer choices for themselves online".
Both versions of the film will be made available to all schools in Surrey as part of a wider resource pack from the end of September 2018 onwards.
The resource pack will include three suggested lessons plans, which have been developed with the support of the Breck Foundation and with national PSHE input. The lesson plans are aimed at KS3 and KS4 and designed to be delivered by the schools, in an environment most appropriate for their pupils.
The lessons focus on:
Believe and Be Aware
Educate and Empower
Communicate and Report
Schools will have the option to show one of the two films – one with a short scene featuring a knife and one without.
Regular briefings have gone out to schools across the county, and head teachers have been informed of plans, so they are ready to show Breck’s Last Game.
The film is now available for the public to watch.