Dedicated team helps young woman transform life
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A team of officers in Southend who identify and help young people at risk of exploitation have helped a woman transform her life.
Southend’s Community Policing Team has a dedicated Violence and Vulnerability Team, which consists of seven officers.
Two of these officers deal with vulnerable people at risk of child sexual exploitation, two officers work closely with young people at risk of criminal exploitation and there are three Children and Young Persons officers who identify and work closely with children who display concerning behaviour and are a key link to schools and education.
Just recently the officers were informed that a teenager had found full time employment and had completely transformed her life.
The woman, who we are not identifying, was being exploited by county lines in relation to drugs and the team quickly intervened to give her the support she needed.
Sergeant Tracey Butt, of Violence and Vulnerability Team, said: “We are always very pleased to hear when a young person has turned their life around through the safeguarding and protection provided by the team.
“With support from our partners, we help a variety of young people, safeguard them and then encourage them to achieve and lead positive lives. This joint partnership has enabled many children to be safeguarded from county lines and criminal organisations.
“The team aims to disrupt the adult offenders and bring them to justice, while ensuring the safety of the children often exploited to carry drugs and weapons for the county lines.
“We have seen children return to education, feel safe in their homes and communities and eventually live independently with employment – just like this woman recently.”
The team often works closely with the families of young people identified and they are allocated a dedicated police officer, social worker and support key workers to assess the needs of the vulnerable person.
On occasions, steps have been taken to move children into new foster places or to move families away from the county to help them escape the criminals trying to exploit them.
We work in partnership with Southend-on-Sea Borough Council’s Children Services dedicated team, the Adolescent Intervention Prevention Team.
Councillor Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning, said: “It is such good news to hear about this young woman transforming her life as a result of the intervention of the Adolescent Intervention Prevention Team and Essex Police Violence and Vulnerability Officers.
“The Adolescent Intervention Prevention Team is unique team put in place specifically to identify and help children, young people and adults who are at risk or are involved in any form of exploitation, including county lines. They work closely with the children’s social care teams, Essex Police and others, to ensure the ongoing safety of children and young people.
“We all have a duty to look after and protect our young people.
"If you have concerns about a child or young person, you can learn more about the warning signs you need to be aware of by visiting the See the Signs website at www.seethesigns.org.uk, where there is also advice on how to report their behaviour and make sure they are kept safe.”
Anyone with concerns about young people involved in crime can call Essex Police on 101 or you report information www.essex.police.uk.
Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.
Every day we are tackling violent crime and protecting vulnerable people who are exploited by criminals involved in drugs and violence. This forms part of our our ongoing work under Operation Sceptre. Find out more at: