Award for Burnley police officers' vital work in operation to safeguard young people targeted by drugs' gangs in Padiham

The vital work they did, as part of an operation to safeguard a number of young people who were being exploited by a drugs' gang, has earned officers from the Burnley neighbourhood policing team an award.

Tuesday, 14th September 2021, 12:55 pm

The POP, which stands for problem oriented partnerships, award was presented to officers from the East child exploitation team, along with the Burnley officers, for Operation Blackrock, a dedicated framework leading to the effective safeguarding of the young victims.

The team worked closely with partners from PACE (Parents Against Child Exploitation), safeguarding leads from local schools, health and social care, social services and other public sector professionals to deliver Operation Blackrock, a dedicated workstream formed initially to tackle rising anti social behaviour in Padiham.

Professionals quickly realised that child criminal exploitation was the underlying issue that was being masked by various ASB problems affecting the local community with a number of reports being made to police of criminal damage, general nuisance and drug dealing.

Pictured at the POP awards are (left to right) Inspector Damian Pemberton, Detective Inspector Martin Melvin, Detective Sergeant Sheralyn Melton, Sergeant Rob Grey, Police Constable Chris McKee, Rachel Tuffin OBE (Director of Knowledge and Innovation, The College of Policing), Angela Harrison (CEO, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner).

Operation Blackrock employed a multi agency approach of engagement with the community, support for exploited victims and the utilisation of early intervention by way of prevention and enforcement leading to a 40% reduction in ASB compared with the same period in the previous year.

Working closely together, police and partners identified young people who were at risk of, or involved with organised crime. They were able to effectively safeguard a number of young people, identifying individual needs for support and re-focused the mind leading to a change in behaviour.

Officers also recruited the support of Matthew Norford – an ex-gang leader from Greater Manchester, turned reformed man, who spoke at length with them around the wider implications of their behaviour and lasting effects should they turn to a life of crime.

DS Sheralyn Melton said “We are immensely proud to win this award, and I hope it sends first and foremost a strong message to the young people in Lancashire that we do care about you, we will listen to you and we can help you. You are not stuck, and there is a way out and your life is worthy.

“I am extremely grateful to everyone who has made Op Blackrock a success; our partners in the local schools, to PACE, health and social care, and our communities for working with us on making sure we tackle this together.

"We will continue as a team to protect the most vulnerable children in Lancashire.”

Lindsay Dalton, CEO of Pace agreed, adding: “It is an honour to be to be part of the partnership team receiving the POP Award.

"This Award is recognition of the successful partnership between the police, the affected family and their whole community, which is critical to keeping children them safe from exploitation.

"We will continue to disrupt and dismantle organised crime groups across Lancashire, and ask our communities to work with us to do so. You can report online to us by visiting www.lancashire.police.uk/doitonline or by calling 101. In an emergency, call 999.

"We know that sometimes you may have information, but don't feel confident speaking with us - you can report any information 100% anonymously to independent charity Crimestoppers by calling 0800 555 111 or by visiting www.crimestoppers-uk.org."

To win the award the officers involved attended police headquarters at Hutton and delivered a presentation to a judging panel including Chief Constable Chris Rowley, Angela Harrison (CEO, Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner), T/ACC Sam Mackenzie and Rachel Tuffin OBE (Director of Knowledge and Innovation, The College of Policing) for Operation Blackrock – a dedicated, multi-agency approach to tackling ASB and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) in Burnley.