I read in the Chronicle Live this morning that "Operation Sanctuary" – an investigation by Northumbria Police opened in 2014 – is looking at the possibility of deporting 550 people in the wake of gang and child abuse crackdowns.
The investigation was launched in January 2014 when a number of arrests took place, following allegations of abuse that were made in December 2013. The original probe was called Operation Shelter, but now we know it was part of a wider umbrella investigations known as Operation Sanctuary.
The report from the Chronicle said that over 200 warnings had been handed to suspected child groomers so far, and 60 taxi drivers who are suspected of sexual exploitation have been suspended. Now this takes my interest. I would like to know why exactly ‘warnings’ have been given out, and more extensive arrests not taken place.
I’d like to know just how much time is spent taking care of the young girl who has been seen with these men, and speaking to the family of these (probable) victims.
It’s also good news that 60 taxi drives have been suspended, but that doesn’t solve the problem. What will solve the problem is extensive arrests, better victim support networks, and tougher deportation measures. And with 90 convictions to date, perhaps we’re seeing the beginning of this.
The report has revealed the following about Operation Sanctuary:
* Over 550 people face deportation following referrals under the Home Office’s ‘High Harm’ scheme
* Police have identified eight crime gangs which are all now subject to “ongoing disruption”
* A flurry of court orders have been issued, including ten aimed at stopping slavery and trafficking
* 220 child abduction notices have been issued, warning suspects of arrest if they contact children
* Police acted on over 1,400 pieces of intelligence
* Over 60 premises have been raided, with £40,000 in fines handed out, and £30,000 of illegal booze and tobacco seized.
You can read more about the operation here, and I suggest that you do. It’s important we stay up to date with these cases, and maintain pressure on the police and social services to take action.
But what I’d really like to see, in the wake of new investigations and possible deportations, is more done to protect vulnerable people.
I want to see more social workers given the resources they need to reach out to young girls who are seen engaging in suspicious behaviour on the streets.
I want to see vulnerable areas – Muslim areas – patrolled better by the police, and any suspicious behaviour tackled promptly and severely.
Things are happening. But don’t forget that victims still don’t receive the support they need….and there are still towns and cities yet to be exposed.