Young people safeguarded during joint operation in Warrington town centre
Officers took six young people to a place of safety during a joint operation between Cheshire Constabulary and Warrington Borough Council.
Held in Warrington town centre on the night of Friday 28 February, Operation Stay Safe was devised to safeguard vulnerable children and teenagers and make them – and their parents/guardians – aware that their actions or whereabouts may place them at risk.
Officers and youth workers worked in pairs patrolling the town centre. They were looking for anyone under the age of 18 involved in anti-social behaviour or crime, or in the company of adults who are.
They were also on the lookout for youngsters in possession of, or under the influence of, alcohol or drugs, as well as anyone who did not look old enough to be out on the streets at night.
Those deemed to not require medical attention but to be vulnerable or at potential risk of significant harm were taken – either voluntarily, or involuntarily under the Children Act 1989 – to Warrington Borough Council’s offices in Buttermarket Street.
Whilst at this designated place of safety, the young people were assessed, with support from various partner agencies.
Youth workers, health services, social services and charities that help families and people with alcohol or drug dependencies were all on hand to help children and teenagers as and when required.
The parents/guardians of all the young people who were taken to the place of safety were informed of this, and of the results of their child’s assessment.
Inspector Ruth Atherton, of Warrington Local Policing Unit, said: “Following concerning reports involving young people hanging around Warrington town centre, on the night of Friday 28 February officers and youth workers patrolled specific venues and locations.
“Acting on intelligence, they were looking for young people that they could help, with the support of partner agencies.
“Six young people were subsequently taken to a place of safety to be assessed and given any help and support that they and their families were deemed to require.
“Warrington Local Policing Unit, Warrington Borough Council and partner agencies worked together exceptionally well during the first night of Operation Stay Safe.
“Further Operation Stay Safe nights will follow in due course.
The aims of the operation include:
- To protect children left to wander the streets at night without responsible adult supervision
- To protect vulnerable children and young people consuming alcohol or other intoxicants
- To tackle crime and anti-social behaviour in identified hotspot locations
- To work with parents/guardians to improve responsible parental care and make sure they are aware of where their child is hanging around and what they are getting up to, in order to give them the opportunity to take action to address these matters
- To enable support services to identify any children, young people and families in need of additional support
- To screen young people who may be at risk of exploitation and identify appropriate support
- To work with partner agencies to educate children, young people and families about pro-social behaviour and signpost them to support services available within Warrington
- Where appropriate, to gather evidence that will support criminal prosecutions and Criminal Behaviour Order (CBO) applications
- To work with partner agencies to educate children and young people and steer them away from gang culture.
- Cllr Matt Smith, cabinet member for children’s services, added: “The vast majority of Warrington’s children and young people treat our communities with respect and we are not concerned about their behaviour.
“However, over recent weeks we have become aware of a small number of low level incidents in the town centre.
“It was decided that a multi-agency, integrated response was needed to help us identify any children at risk of being drawn into anti-social behaviour in the town.
“We did this to ensure that we could offer co-ordinated support to them and tackle any emerging issues.
“Doing this proved a real success.”
Operation Stay Safe is a Warrington Community Safety Partnership activity.
The partnership sees key senior representatives from partner organisations working together to reduce crime and disorder in Warrington.
For more details about the partnership visit Warrington Borough Council's website.