Police are to take to the streets on Armagh today (Friday) as part of a campaign to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation.
As part of the PSNI’s ongoing ‘Operation 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. This awareness raising activity is now expanding to Armagh.
On Friday, local neighbourhood policing teams, alongside officers from the dedicated Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team, will be out on the streets of Armagh, 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.
Any child can be exploited. There are lots of signs to look out for, including:
· 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 taxis are sometimes 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: “Child Sexual Exploitation is an abhorrent crime and one that we must work together to outsmart child predators and put a stop to.
“Children are some of the most vulnerable in our society and they often do not even realise that they are being exploited. Many are tricked into thinking they are in ‘normal’, even loving relationships, which is why they can’t raise the alarm to Police themselves.
“CSE can happen to any child, from any background. The warning signs are often hidden in plain sight but the signs are there. This is why it is so important that we are out on the streets arming our communities with the knowledge and information to enable them to confidently report to Police.
“If you feel something is not right, please let us know – you will not be wasting our time.”
For further information see the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s website.
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.
You can also contact independent the charity CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or via crimestoppers-uk.org.