Campaign to shed light on gangs which exploit vulnerable people

Campaign to shed light on gangs which exploit vulnerable people

by Tom Martin (October 2020)

A NEW campaign has been launched to shed light on how drug gangs are exploiting vulnerable people in south Sefton and how local residents can help prevent this from happening to a family member or friend.

Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) has set-up ‘You Know Who’, a joint campaign with Merseyside Police and Sefton Council, which will explain how and why drug gangs take advantage of the borough’s most vulnerable.

In Sefton, people are often exploited and have their homes taken over by local drugs gangs who use it as a base from where they sell illegal drugs, grow cannabis and store weapons.

The campaign explains the criminal trend for home invasion, known as ‘cuckooing’, which can allow gangs to continue criminal activity under the radar.

By taking over the home of a vulnerable person, who might suffer from learning disabilities, addictions, or low levels of confidence, gangs believe they can go undetected.

‘You Know Who’ tells residents that, if they ‘know who’ might be at risk, they can tell the police about it anonymously – without anyone knowing – by returning a flyer to Marsh Lane police station, in Bootle, or they can go online to: www.youknowwho.info and fill in the form. Once the team receives the information, they act quickly to locate them to carry out a safeguarding exercise.

Detective Superintendent Andy Ryan, who leads Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP), said: “We are very pleased to collaborate with Merseyside Police and Sefton Council by producing a pilot campaign that intends to impact the culture and incidence of serious violence in the Sefton area by reducing risks to vulnerable residents.

“If we see successful results, the ‘You Know Who’ model can also be rolled out into other areas of Merseyside where cuckooing is regretfully taking root.”

Posters, letters through residents’ letterboxes, social media and a large piece of urban artwork in The Strand shopping centre in Bootle is aiming to bring attention to the campaign.

Cllr Trish Hardy, Chair of Sefton’s Community Safety Partnership added: “We support the VRP’s ‘You Know Who’ campaign 100%. In recognising those pockets of our communities that need extra support to stay safe, this excellent pilot campaign will give communities the confidence to identify vulnerable people and the behaviour linked to cuckooing and also offer them the reassurance that, by telling someone about them, they can do so safely, without anyone ever knowing.”

Flyers will be distributed by both Royal Mail and by Sefton Council to 36,000 homes in south Sefton and the website can be found at: www.youknowwho.info

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