As part of the Police’s ongoing ‘Make Safe’ campaign, local neighbourhood officers have been busy delivering a suite of training packages to the night time economy educating them on what to look out for that may indicate a child is at risk.
The activity is now expanding to Newry, Mourne and Down district. On Friday 26th August, local neighbourhood policing teams, alongside officers from the dedicated Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team will be out on the streets of Newry and Warrenpoint speaking to local businesses and members of the public, educating them on what to look out for that may indicate a child is at risk of CSE.
Any child can be exploited or abused, no matter their background, culture, ethnicity or religion, whether they are a boy or girl. There are lots of signs to look for:
· Adults befriending young people
· Adults who have been noted visiting with different young people
· Adults accompanying young people and acting in an intimate way with them
· Adults who are accompanying young people who look to be confused or distressed
· Adults buying alcoholic drinks for someone expected to be under 18
· Picking young people up in your taxi and dropping them at a local hotel at odd times of the day/night
· Adult guests requesting a room that is isolated
· Adult guests accessing pornography in a room where you think a child may be present
CSE can be present in hotels, pubs and other places licensed to sell alcohol and that taxis are used to transport young people who are then exploited. Therefore it is vital that training and awareness raising is in place to teach people on how to spot the signs and give them the confidence to report to Police if they feel something is not right.
This activity will continue across all other Districts in Northern Ireland over the next year.
Detective Inspector Judith Hamill, who will be leading this operation said:
“No person, let alone a child, should ever be exploited.
“In most cases, the child victims of CSE do not even realise they are at risk. They are being manipulated by their abuser who is gifting them with new clothes, gifts or money and putting an expectation on that child to pay them back in some way. This often results in sexual, physical and mental abuse.
“Therefore, we need to have as many eyes and ears on the ground that can look out for a child in need and notify us if they feel something is just not right.
“We know that this is an under reported crime type, so we rely on people being alert and well-informed about how to spot the signs.
“Officers in our Child Sexual Exploitation Team have been delivering bespoke training packages to the local hotel and entertainment industry for nearly a year. We will continue our efforts to ensure people have the confidence to report their concerns to Police.
“We have a team of dedicated Detectives who will robustly investigate reports and remain determined to bring offenders to justice.
“If you’re concerned about a child’s welfare and think they may be being exploited, please report it to Police online, via 101 or 999 in an emergency. We would far rather someone alerted us and for it to be a false alarm, than for us to miss a chance to investigate or safeguard a vulnerable person.”
For further information see the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s website.
You can also contact independent the charity CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.