POLICE fear perverts could use the craze for World Cup Panini stickers to target youngsters keen on completing their collections.
Peterlee Neighbourhood Policing Team is hosting a swap shop to provide a safe environment for children to exchange cards.
There have been no reported grooming incidents linked to the craze, which has seen people take to social media to arrange the swaps.
However, the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) has said it could be used as a means people with an interest in children or young people to arrange meetings.
Inspector Dave Coxon, who leads the policing team, said: “There have been a lot of requests from people for something like this following a discussion about people swapping Panini cards.
“It’s quite an innovative way to get the message across to the public while allowing kids to swap cards in a safe environment.
“There has been a lot of talk about it on social media and Facebook.
“But what we don’t want is people going to meet complete strangers where they have no idea who they are meeting.”
The swap shop is being led by Police Community Support Officer Andy Gilhooley, who was a Panini fan as a child and has an album for this World Cup.
It will be held in the market square of Castle Dene Shopping Centre on Saturday from 11am to 3pm.