Police call on Lancashire businesses to help stop child exploitation with launch of Operation Makesafe
Operation Makesafe, which is already running under a number of forces, aims to empower business owners and their employees to identify potential victims and act early to prevent them from coming to harm.
In Lancashire, officers are targeting hotels, takeaways, licensed premises and taxi companies.
Det Supt Neil Drummond, Head of Lancashire Constabulary's Public Protection Unit, said: “We are committed to protecting our young people from exploitation, but it is not something the police can do in isolation.
“It is crucial that those running or working in industries where exploitation may take place keep in mind that their premises could be used to commit offences.
“Through Operation Makesafe we aim to ensure that staff working in different venues across the county know the signs and have the confidence to contact us without delay so that we can intervene.
A launch event will be taking place at Preston North End on May 24 where attendees from partner agencies, the leisure sector and night-time economy will be able to find out more about the scheme.
They will also hear first-hand about the impact of exploitation from guest speakers who have their own lived experience.
Attendees will also be given posters and a toolkit to display and utilise in their premises to help educate their staff on Operation Makesafe.
The toolkits and posters contain advice on spotting the signs of child exploitation and know what to do if they suspect child exploitation is happening on their premises.
Police believe this victim-focused partnership work will result in an even more effective safeguarding response that will protect vulnerable children.
Detective Superintendent Neil Drummond, Head of Lancashire Constabulary's Public Protection Unit, said: “We are committed to protecting our young people from exploitation, but it is not something the police can do in isolation. It is crucial that those running or working in industries where exploitation may take place keep in mind that their premises could be used to commit offences.
“The campaign’s key message is not to hesitate in following up on that ‘gut feeling’ in situations where they think something is wrong or suspicious, when previously they may not have been sure about doing so,” Det Supt Drummond added.
“The posters and leaflets will serve as a daily prompt and reminder to really think about the circumstances around children coming into hotels and report any concerns.”
Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner Andy Pratt MBE said: “The safeguarding of children is everyone’s responsibility and I’m pleased to support this campaign bringing police, partners and business owners together to ensure everyone knows the signs of exploitation, and most importantly feels confident acting on this knowledge.
“Whilst many crime types are visible to the public on a daily basis, some are not. Exploitation can happen anywhere, with young people manipulated, sexually abused, forced to launder money and deal drugs.
“First and foremost, Op Makesafe helps to send a message that child exploitation will be robustly dealt with, and I would encourage business owners to get involved so that we can work together to keep children safe across Lancashire.”