Posted: Monday 15th June 2015
It’s almost impossible to listen to a news bulletin or read a newspaper these days without hearing a story of a young or vulnerable person who has been abused. Often these are historical cases, some of them going back decades. As a parent myself, I am angry and appalled and like you, asking how this could have happened without us knowing? What could we have done to stop it? Why didn’t we spot the signs? I’ve often heard people say that looking back, something didn’t seem right, that person we were supposed to trust was abusing young people under our noses and we did nothing.
After the crimes of Jimmy Savile were revealed, offences that involved so many young and vulnerable people, the phrase I heard repeated was that he had been ‘hiding in plain sight’. There is no doubt that Savile used his celebrity status and charitable work as a cover which allowed him to carry out abuse with little suspicion. When concerns were raised, victims were on the whole, not believed.
This must never be allowed to happen again, and we all have to play our part in preventing abuse. We must be aware and know how to recognise the signs a child is at risk of being exploited. I have recently funded a campaign called ‘Not In Our Community’ with an accompanying video, ‘Jane’s Story’ showing you how this exploitation of our children can happen. You can watch it at www.notinourcommunity.org. I have also funded a mobile app called www.caremonkeys.co.uk aimed at giving information to young people. Please help spread the word.
Humberside Police have a dedicated team of officers working to Protect Vulnerable People (PVP). They act on intelligence to build pictures of what is happening. Little snippets of information reported by police officers, PCSO’s, partner organisations such as social services and support groups, and most importantly from members of the public are fed into a database which highlights names, places and patterns of behaviour. Everybody needs to be aware so we can use those little snippets of information to build up a big picture. If you see something that does not seem right, for example a young teenage girl who hangs around with older boys or gets into cars with them, report it to the police on 101. Imagine if it was your daughter or son at risk you would hope someone would do the same for you. Remember it happens in plain sight in public places like parks or shopping centres. Look for significant age differences, the perpetrators aren’t your stereotypical ‘dirty old man’, nor are they from one particular ethnic group, most are males in their early 20’s and most victims are in their mid-teens. Older males get involved further down the line after the victims have come to trust their new ‘friends’.
By providing the police with this detail, they are getting to know the perpetrators, who they associate with, establishing patterns of behaviour and the locations they visit.
Police officers traditionally investigate crimes after they have been committed, our PVP team investigate suspicions so these devastating crimes can be stopped before they happen. Please watch the video, know the signs, and if you suspect something, report it and help protect our children.