Cumbria Police, along with a number of organisations involved in Cumbria’s Children’s Trust, are going to carry out a joint initiative to help educate children and their parents in all areas of West Cumbria between now and New Year’s Day.
During a Staysafe Operation children considered to be vulnerable are taken to a place of safety by the Police. This includes those in possession of alcohol, those who are too young to be out at that time of night and any youths who are involved in antisocial behaviour.
The Places of Safety are usually the local children’s centres or local Inspira offices. Trained staff are in attendance to deal with the young people taken there by the Police. Following the initiative, further support and guidance will be given to the children and their parents by the agencies involved.
The last time this initiative was used in West Cumbria was on Friday 27th September in Whitehaven, Workington and Cockermouth.
On that occasion four youths were found with alcohol in their possession between the ages of fourteen and sixteen. All four were taken to a place of safety, two in Whitehaven and two in Workington. One 14 year old girl was found with a large quantity of alcohol in a bag walking towards the skate park in Whitehaven. Another 15 year old boy was caught on Vulcans Lane in Workington actually walking past the place of safety with a three litre bottle of very high strength Cider.
The organisations involved in Staysafe Operations are Cumbria Police, Children’s Services, Youth Offending Service, NACRO, Action For Children, The Howgill Centre and Barnardos.
The aim is to keep children safe over the Festive period and to ensure that young people realise that their behaviour can put them at risk of harm.
At the designated place of safety young people receive interventions from skilled professionals who have knowledge about the specific dangers the young person face. Parents or guardians of the children are then contacted and asked to attend the place of safety. They are informed of the reasons why this action was taken in an effort to raise awareness of what their child had been doing whilst out of their care.
Sergeant Richard Farnworth, of Cumbria Police, said: “Operation Staysafe protects children and also provides a reassuring police presence on the streets.
“The aim of the initiative is to protect children from harm by identify children who are out on the streets at night, who are at risk of harm and making them and their parents aware of the dangers they are putting themselves in.
“We want to reassure the local community that tackling any antisocial behaviour is a priority and this is one way we can help educate children before any such behaviour occurs and prevent them from becoming at risk of harm.
“I’m pleased we are able to work with other agencies and parents to reduce the risk of harm to young people and give them the information needed to prevent it happening again.
“Over the festive period we will carry out this work at times and in places where
we know young people can place themselves at risk and we have already identified locations across all parts of West Cumbria.
“I also want to send the clear message to parents that not knowing where your child is at night, allowing them to consume alcohol or allowing them to stay out late on their own, is unacceptable. I want to reassure communities that we are working to keep children safe. Parents need to take responsibility for their children ensuring that they have an alcohol free childhood.
“We will also deal with any offences by Licensees who sell alcohol to or for young people.”
If you have any concerns about antisocial behaviour in your area, or information about where young people are obtaining alcohol, please contact your local Neighbourhood Policing Team on 101.