Brent Police’s drive to weed out child sex offenders

Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher

Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher - Credit: Archant

Every week Chief Superintendent Michael Gallagher, Brent Police borough commander, writes a column to inform Times readers about the latest policing activity happening in the borough. Today he talks about how officers in the borough are catching child sex offenders.

Last week saw a ‘National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day’ to tackle Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

Brent Police supported this awareness day with a day of action which saw officers working with social services and other partners in various activities across the borough.

Officers executed a search warrant at an address on the borough resulting in two people being arrested for possession and sharing of indecent images of children.

Computers and others items were seized. The investigation is being led by Brent CID.

Officers visited schools and staffed a stall at Wembley Central train station, which more than 150 people visited and engaged with officers on the subject of CSE.

In addition my officers who monitor sexual offenders were out in force visiting registered sex offenders to ensure they were complying with their various court orders issued to protect the public.

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In addition to this activity, the awareness day saw the launch of the revised ‘The London Child Sexual Exploitation Operating Protocol’ which is supported by the Metropolitan Police, all of the 32 local authorities in London, Barnardo’s, the NSPCC, the London Safeguarding Children’s Board and the Safer London Foundation.

The overarching aim of the protocol is the protection of young people from sexual exploitation whether that is at the hands of a family member or from a gang or a group that the young person is somehow linked with or associates with. CSE can also be linked to organised sexual exploitation by groups of people including trafficking young people from one area to another.

One of the difficulties experienced when tacking CSE is that often the young person does not consider themselves to be being exploited. They consider the gang or group involved to be friends, or that the person sexually exploiting them to be a boyfriend or girlfriend. The young person is often in denial.

In order to deal with this problem the police, the local authority and the other agencies involved need your help. Firstly, we must not assume that CSE is targeted solely at young girls. It is not. Secondly, and more importantly, many young people are not aware that they are being sexually exploited, or refuse to accept that they are. This is when it becomes very important that if you, as members of the community living, working or visiting Brent, have concerns about whether a young person may be being sexually exploited, that you notify the police or the local authority or the other agencies as soon as possible.

Alternatively, you could contact the charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit their website crimestoppers-uk.org.

Finally, police officers in Brent have been promoting ‘Makesafe’ which is a London wide programme to highlight the issue of CSE to managers and staff in cab offices, hotels and licensed premises and raising awareness.

More than 75 business premises were visited as part of the day of action last week.

If you have any concerns as to whether a child is being sexually exploited I would urge to contact either the police on 101, Brent Council on 020 8937 1234 or the NSPCC 24 hour child protection helpline on 0808 800 5000.

If you are a child or a young person who needs help, you are encouraged to can contact ‘ChildLine’ on 0800 1111.

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