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Detectives investigating allegations of Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) have arrested three males and carried out four warrants across Merseyside today, Thursday 10 September.
The warrants were carried out in Halewood, Wavertree and Anfield, and various items were seized for further enquiries. Three males have been arrested as follows:
A 24-year-old man from Anfield was arrested on suspicion of: Arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation; taking a vehicle without consent and possession of cannabis
A 22-year-old man from Halewood was arrested on suspicion of: Hold person in slavery or servitude; Taking a child in care without lawful authority; Arrange or facilitate travel of another person with a view to exploitation; taking a vehicle without consent and possession of cannabis
A 16-year-old boy from Anfield was arrested on suspicion of: Hold person in slavery or servitude; Robbery and possession of cannabis.
All three have been taken to a police station for questioning.
Detective Chief Inspector Siobhan Gainer said: “This action forms part of an ongoing investigation relating to suspected criminal exploitation of a child for the purposes of dealing drugs. All three arrested will now be questioned further as our enquiries continue.
“We have a dedicated team who actively target those who, not only criminally exploit children, but those who we suspect are involved in moving children around to enable them to be taken advantage of. We’re committed to the protection and safeguarding of victims, alongside all partners, and we’ll continue to use all available legislation under the Modern Slavery Act to bring those responsible in front of the courts.
“We also give top priority to the issue of County Lines. Through Project Medusa, we work with other forces, BTP and local authorities and agencies to target offenders and protect victims. We’ve closed more than 60 county lines, made more than 300 arrests and safeguarded more than 100 people this year alone.
“None of this action can be successful without information from those in the communities who see and hear things, or have suspicions. As this issue is talked about more, both in the areas affected, and in the media, people are becoming more aware of the possible signs, but these are worth highlighting again.
“We want those at risk of exploitation to have the knowledge and confidence to break free, and for others in our communities to be aware of the signs so they can report concerns immediately. We’d also encourage people to follow the ‘Eyes Open’ campaign, which aims to further raise awareness.”
In children, signs that they are a victim of criminal exploitation can be:
• going missing from home or absent from school without explanation;
• mixing with new friends their parents don’t know;
• experimental drug use, often cannabis;
• having more than one mobile phone;
• appearing nervous/scared/evasive/secretive;
• suffering injuries they can’t explain; having tickets for train or coach travel
In adults, signs of ‘cuckooing’ can include:
• a loved one or neighbour not being seen for some time;
• unknown visitors and vehicles to their house at unusual times;
• exchanges of cash or packages outside their home;
• open drug use in the street; damage and degradation to the appearance of their home;
• a change in their own personality or behaviour e.g. used to say ‘Hi’, now appears nervous/worried/intimidated