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Cumbria Police, along with a number of organisations, aim to educate local children about the risk’s they can placed themselves in by being on the street at night. Last week, on Friday 30th March, operation Staysafe was carried out in Whitehaven. Between 7pm and 11pm police officers identified any children at risk of harm, which included those in possession of alcohol, those who were too young to be out at that time of night and any who were involved in antisocial behaviour.
A number of different organisations where involved in the operation, including Cumbria Police, Children’s Services, Connexions (Inspira) and The Howgill Centre, all of which are involved in the Children’s Trust.
All of the children who were identified to be at risk were taken to a place of safety, Connexions on Roper Street, Whitehaven, where they received information from the support agencies there. They were told about the danger they could have potentially put themselves in.
The aim was to ensure that the young people realised that what they were doing may have put them at risk of harm and reduce the chance of it happening again. At the designated place of safety the young person received interventions from skilled professionals who had knowledge about the specific dangers the young person faced.
Parents or guardians of the children were then contacted and asked to attend the place of safety. They were also informed of the reasons this action was taken, in an effort to raise awareness of what their child had been doing whilst out of their care.
During the evening five children, between the ages of fourteen and sixteen, were found either in possession of alcohol or under the influence of alcohol. Four were taken to place of safety and one was taken straight home to their parents.
Police officers also gave advice to other young people who were seen hanging around the streets. They were advised of the risks of being out and about and how to increase their safety.
Sergeant Richard Farnworth, the Community Safety Sergeant for West Cumbria, led the operation and briefed all the staff involved. He said: “The aim of the initiative is to identify children who are out on the streets at night and are at risk of harm and making them and their parents aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in. Operation Staysafe protects children and also provides a reassuring police presence on the streets.
“We want to reassure the local community that tackling any antisocial behaviour is a priority and this is one way we can help educate children before any such behaviour occurs and prevent them from becoming at risk of harm.
“I’m pleased we are able to work with other agencies and parents to reduce the risk of harm to young people and give them the information needed to prevent it happening again. Parents appeared appreciative of the support we gave their children and I look forward to continuing this joint work across West Cumbria, at times and in places where we know young people can place themselves at risk.
“I also want to remind parents that making sure where your child is at night is important. I understand that it can be difficult to trace every step, but taking simple steps like checking where they are going before they go out and setting a specific time to come home will help to keep your child safe. I want to reassure communities that we are working to keep children safe.”
If you have any concerns about antisocial behaviour in your area, please contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.