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PCC visits ground-breaking project aimed at protecting youngsters from Child Criminal Exploitation

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner has visited a ground-breaking project run in partnership with Knowsley and Sefton Council to help protect some of the region’s most vulnerable young people from being exploited by more sophisticated criminals.

The joint Knowsley and Sefton Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) Prevention and Support programme was commissioned by Jane Kennedy with the aim of preventing children from being drawn into criminal activities by older criminals and gangs.

The project is one of three pilots that the Police Commissioner commissioned last November to help tackle the emerging issue of CCE and was match-funded by both the Local Authorities. The Commissioner was joined by representatives from both councils to see the programme in action at St Columba’s Catholic Primary School on Hillside Road in Huyton.

Approximately 30 pupils from years 5 and 6 attended the assembly led by project workers Jay Vernon and Mark Reynolds. The presentation included a story which highlighted the potential dangers of CCE and prompted discussion among the children about what exploitation means, how they could potentially be pressured or exploited by older children and the consequences for themselves, their friends and families.

Children from across the two Boroughs (school years 5-9) will attend the group sessions which increase young people’s awareness, develop their resilience and help them to make choices which prevent from getting drawn into criminal activities.

The schools package is complemented by the work of a Prevention Advocate who has been funded to offer specialist advice and support for children who have been identified as at particular risk of exploitation, and their parents. The project will also enable more than 50 professionals across the Boroughs to receive training so they can continue the work going forward.

Jane said: “Child Criminal Exploitation is a rapidly emerging issue which is a major concern for our communities.

“Children as young as 10 or 11 are being groomed to enter gangs and commit crime on behalf of older criminals. These young people are being exploited and, by being persuaded to carry out illegal activities, often with the promise of something they desire as a reward, they become incredibly vulnerable.

“While there is now much greater awareness of the issue of Child Sexual Exploitation, Child Criminal Exploitation is still very much an unknown quantity. It is difficult to quantify the scale of the problem and there can often be complex factors affecting a young person’s life when they are driven by CCE into committing crime

“Victims of CCE are often fearful of getting into trouble themselves – for the very actions they have been exploited into carrying out – so it can also be difficult to get these young people to come forward and speak out about their situation.

“This pilot projects run in partnership with Knowsley and Sefton Council is one of the first steps we are taking into trying to develop a greater understanding of CCE and the multi-faceted issues surrounding it. It was really impressive to see the programme in action at St Columba’s. While it uses a gentle approach which is appropriate for the age of the children, it was great to see how much the children engaged with the topic. It was also clear to see how effective the programme is in helping young people to recognise the warning signs, opening their eyes to how they may become exploited to prevent them from becoming embroiled in activities that could, if they continued unchecked, potentially get them into trouble.”

While there is still no legal definition of ‘Child Criminal Exploitation’ or CCE, it is increasingly being recognised as a major factor behind crime in communities across Merseyside and the UK, while also simultaneously victimising vulnerable young people and leaving them at risk of harm.

A spokesman for Sefton Council added: “We welcome the joint partnership with Knowsley and the Police Commissioner and our combined efforts to reducing child criminal exploitation within the two boroughs. It’s very important for us to ensure children know about the risks and dangers of becoming involved with criminal gangs and to make sure that they know the tactics they may use to lure them into criminal behaviour.”

Change of dates for CCG health meetings

Health commissioners in Sefton have released revised meeting schedules for their bi-monthly governing bodies, which borough residents are welcome to attend to hear more about their local NHS.

It means that governing body meetings for NHS Southport and Formby Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and NHS South Sefton CCG will now take place in early May, a month earlier than previously advertised.

Chief officer for both CCGs, Fiona Taylor, explained: “Governing bodies are the CCGs most important business meetings where members of the group discuss and make decisions about local health services.

“We’ve moved our meetings to earlier in the month so information presented to the governing bodies is more timely, and we have changed the month when they are held so they fall outside the main summer holiday period to give as many people as possible the chance to come along and listen in to our discussions.”   

CCGs are responsible for planning and buying, or ‘commissioning’ the majority of local health services and governing bodies are accountable for their work. The NHS organisations welcome anyone with an interest in their work to come along and listen to the discussions of the doctors, nurses, health professionals and lay representatives who make up the governing bodies. 

All governing body meetings start at 1pm and time is set aside before they formally begin for people to ask any questions they might have.

The next governing body meetings take place on the following new dates:

  • NHS Southport and Formby CCG – Wednesday 3 May, Family Life Centre, Ash St, Southport
  • NHS South Sefton CCG – Thursday 4 May, 3rd floor, Merton House, Stanley Rd, Bootle

Anyone who would like to come along is asked to call 0151 247 7000 to confirm their attendance.

A full schedule of each CCG’s new governing body meeting dates can be found on their websites www.southportandformbyccg.nhs.uk and www.southseftonccg.nhs.uk

46 Drug Driving Arrests Made in Joint Initiative

A total of 46 suspected drug drivers were arrested in Sefton by Merseyside police in March as part of a joint initiative with Sefton Council.

Merseyside Police has been working in partnership with the council to tackle the issue of road safety around drug use and carried out a total of 70 drug wipe tests throughout the month, 46 positive tests resulting in arrest .

The cost of the wipes, which are used to detect if a driver is under the influence of controlled drugs, was met by Sefton council as part of the Sefton Safer Communities Partnership.

Throughout the force as a whole 114 people were arrested during March on suspicion of driving under the influence of drugs.

Merseyside Police Inspector Andy Bragg of the Sefton Targeted team said: “These figures show the importance of taking a multi agency approach to tackling road safety, but also the excellent commitment of our officers in removing these drivers from our roads, undoubtedly reducing a significant risk to the public.

“For the past seventeen months our drug wipes have been funded by Sefton Safer Communities Partnership, who continue to support the Targeting Team by purchasing our drug wipes since their introduction in late 2015, with £10,000 being invested so far.”

The funding has so far seen 362 drug wipe tests on the roads in Sefton resulting in 195 arrests based on positive results.

Of those arrested 75% already had a criminal background.

It has already resulted in driving bans totalling 135 years, 36 months in prison sentences and 850 hours in unpaid community work.

Inspector Bragg added: “This proves what a valuable partnership we have with Sefton Council in our drive against people who are prepared to risk driving their vehicles under the influence of drugs.

“To help us recoup or costs we are also applying to the courts for the cost of the drug wipes to be recovered from the offender on conviction.”

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “Through the Sefton Safer Communities Partnership funding was made available for this important piece of partnership working.

“Driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cause massive consequences on our communities and through this initiative many drivers have been taken off the roads. It is very simple, drugs and driving just don’t mix.”

Flytipping Prosecution

A Wirral man has been fined £400 for flytipping waste in Sefton.

Francis Berry (59), of Cromer Drive, Wallasey pleaded guilty to dumping waste at Crosby Marina at a hearing at South Sefton Magistrates Court on April 18.

This followed an incident where rubbish was left at Crosby Coastal Park contrary to Section 33(1)(a) of the Environmental Protection Act, 1990.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “Continuous successful prosecutions like this show we will not take flytipping lightly.

“Sadly many people still believe that they can dispose of rubbish wherever they want causing issues for residents and draining Council services.

“Hopefully this case will act as a deterrent to other potential offenders and make them think twice before just dumping waste wherever they want to.”

It is estimated during the 2015/16 financial year, Sefton Council spent almost £400K in relation to the clearance, disposal and enforcement of flytipping offences.

If any residents have any concerns regarding flytipping or wish to report an offence, they should contact Sefton Council via the website sefton.gov.uk or report it on our flytipping page.

Litter Prosecutions

Eight people have been fined a total of £2,856 for littering offences in Sefton.

The figure, which includes costs, followed hearings at South Sefton Magistrates Court on Tuesday, April 18 brought about by Sefton Council.

Many of the cases were proven in absence and those fined included: William Bates (52), Westminster Avenue, Netherton, Lauren Hunt (20), Chambres Road, Southport, Shauma Hunt (44), Rockhouse Street, Liverpool, Megan Kershaw (19), Weld Road, Birkdale, Simon Mutch (61), Trinity Road, Bootle, Karen Ratcliffe (27), Ashley Road, Southport and Stephanie Williamson (20), Churchtown Road, Liverpool. 

Mary Ross (61), Bede Road, Bedworth made a guilty plea at court.

A spokesman for Sefton Council said: “People need to realise that dropping any form of litter is not acceptable behaviour.

“Residents and visitors to the borough need to understand that they are responsible for correctly disposing of their own waste and we will not hesitate in following court proceedings for those who flout the law.

“Court cases like this highlight what can happen if you are caught and we hope it will make people think twice before just throwing their waste away.”

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