The Police Service of Northern Ireland continues crackdown on child sexual exploitation

  • 17 June 2022

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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 North Down. On Friday 17th June, local neighbourhood policing teams, alongside officers from the dedicated Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team will be out on the streets of Bangor and Newtownards 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 is not specific to Bangor and Newtownards - it is operational awareness raising activity that will continue across all other Districts in Northern Ireland over the next year.

Detective Inspector Judith Hamill, who will be leading this operation said:

"The ambition of this activity across Northern Ireland is for every business within the hospitality and entertainment sector to be able to confidently identify a person who may be at risk and raise the alarm with officers to ultimately save a vulnerable child.

“We have a team of dedicated detectives who will robustly investigate reports and who remain determined to bring all those who exploit children to justice. We will do everything we can to stop the abuse and exploitation of children – but we need help from our communities in order to protect those at risk.

“Perpetrators of these crimes are incredibly manipulating and children often don’t even realise they are being exploited, which is why they can’t raise the alarm to Police themselves.

“Abuse is often hidden in plain sight but the signs are there. 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.