“Don’t let it happen in your community.”
Today, 11 June, we embark on our second Operation Vigilance day in a bid to stamp out child sexual and criminal exploitation in Lincoln. Through Operation Vigilance, we aim to raise awareness in our communities, so they can help us by recognising the signs and reporting to us. This engagement goes hand in hand with enforcement action which we undertake with our key partners.
Chief Insp Phil Baker is leading the operation. He said, “It’s vital that we tackle child exploitation and important that we join forces with partners to do this in the most effective way. You can help by knowing the signs of child exploitation so you are able to spot it and report it. Ultimately, this will help us to identify perpetrators, and keep our children safe.”
Operation Vigilance is a partnership project supported by Lincolnshire County Council, City of Lincoln Council, local housing providers, Barnardo’s and the Children’s Society.
Chris Cook, Independent Chair of the Lincolnshire Safeguarding Children Partnership, said: "Keeping children safe is a priority for the partnership. Protecting the vulnerable is never easy, but by working together we can make a difference. We continue to support and protect vulnerable children, responding to any safeguarding concerns and identifying hidden harm, and the public can help by alerting us to any signs that a child might be being exploited. We all have a responsibility to help keep children safe, and we'd urge anyone who believes a child may be at risk to report their concerns."
Daren Turner, Director for Housing and Investment at City of Lincoln Council, said: “We are very happy to support Lincolnshire Police and other local partners in helping tackle the issues which are blighting some areas of our city. We are conscious of the pressures a number of our communities are under and tackling these are a key priority for the city council. We will continue to work with all of our partners to ensure improvements are made in the areas where they are needed most.”
Today's plan includes visits to numerous premises alongside Trading Standards. Results of the morning visits to follow.
Along with enforcement, today is about recruiting communities as our eyes and ears.
Chief Insp Baker explained, “Exploitation of children can happen in local parks, fast food restaurants, takeaways, bus and train stations. Taxis, private hire cars, B&Bs, hotels may be used in the exploitation of children. A child who has unexplained injuries, who looks threatened by an older person or group, who looks lost, fearful, or withdrawn, may be a victim of exploitation. If you see a child demonstrating any of these signs, look beyond. Report it.”
We launched Operation Vigilance in December 2020 with a day of action. Seven warrants were executed on a series of addresses in Portland Street, Lincoln, in partnership with Trading Standards, Environmental Health and Home Office Immigration.
Here are the results in numbers from December’s day of action:
- 4 agencies working together
- 7 warrants
- 10 premises visited
- 1 man charged with 2 counts of possession of cannabis with intent to supply
- 23660 cigarettes seized
- 3200g tobacco seized
- 2 covid related fixed penalty notices issued
- 100 bottles of alcohol suspected non-duty paid
Today, we again join with partners to continue our efforts to enforce and engage on child sexual and criminal exploitation.
What is child exploitation?
Sexual and criminal exploitation of children occurs when young people are manipulated into doing something illegal. Offenders may use gifts, money or threats of violence to control their victim. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child abuse where a victim is coerced or forced into sexual activity. Child criminal exploitation (CCE) is often associated with County Lines, involving children in the distribution of drugs, but it can also include other forms of criminal activity such as theft or knife crime.
A victim of CSE or CCE may not recognise that they are a victim. They may be terrified and see no way out.
Know the signs
Chief Insp Baker said, “All information, no matter how insignificant it may appear, can contribute to greater clarity around what are often extensive and complex exploitation networks. Please don’t assume we already know or that someone else will pass on information which may be critical to keeping a child safe. If you have your suspicions, make a note of any details you can including vehicles, names and locations.”
These are some common signs of child exploitation.
- Unexplained injuries.
- Unfamiliar with the area and seeming lost.
- Unusual or excessive use of public transport / taxis / hotels.
- Upset, anxious, secretive, withdrawn behaviours.
- May appear angry or aggressive; these are common signs of trauma.
- Intimidated, fearful or controlled by an older person or group.
- In possession of unexplained money or expensive things.
- Avoidance of authority figures.
- Drop in grades and absence from school.
- Going missing.
- Excessive messages or calls and protective, anxious and secretive about their mobile phone.
If you are concerned a child may be being exploited please report the details to us. Examples of information to record and report:
- Suspicious vehicle details including registration, make, model or colour.
- Descriptions including names or nicknames of suspected perpetrators and associates.
- Details of addresses or localities that children at risk or being exploited may be being taken or where there has been suspicious activity.
- Areas where children associate out of sight.
- Names of other children and young people they are friends with who could also be at risk of exploitation.
- Details of a child’s unusual or frequent use of public transport, taxis or private hire cars.
- Details of suspicious incidents of children attending B&Bs or hotels.
Who to call
If you have any information relating to a child that you believe may be being exploited, call us on 101 or 999 if it’s an emergency. You can alternatively call the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
If you are worried that a child is suffering neglect, abuse or cruelty, call the County Council Children’s Safeguarding line on 01522 782111 (Monday to Friday 8am to 6pm)
How you can help
We believe everyone can help as the eyes and ears of Lincolnshire. In addition, there are certain jobs that put people in the right place, who are a key position to become our silent guardians. Examples include:
- Postal and delivery workers
- Transport staff and drivers including rail, bus and private hire cars
- Security guards
- Door staff
- Waste disposal operatives
- School staff
- Hotel staff
- Local businesses like shops, fast food outlets and cafes
Please, when you see a child, and something doesn’t seem quite right, think vigilance. Is this child being exploited? If in doubt, report it. Together we can tackle this abhorrent crime and help keep children safe.
Operation Vigilance: launch video
11 Jun 21 11:08 AM