Closing gateways to child exploitation: Illegal vapes
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GMP’s Rochdale district and partner agencies, including Rochdale Council Trading Standards, are continuing to close gateways to child exploitation to stop offenders in their tracks and keep young people safe.
Under Operation Vigilant, the partnership builds relationships with key sources within communities to ensure that intelligence is being shared and acted upon – recently, there has been an increase in reports about the sale or provision of illegal vapes.
Detective Chief Inspector Stuart Round, GMP Rochdale’s lead for safeguarding, said: “It’s not unusual for us to be asked what vapes have got to do with the criminal and/ or sexual exploitation of young people – what we know is that some offenders use objects which youngsters want but struggle to access to incite criminal behaviour or sexual activity … traditionally, it’s been high-value gifts, alcohol, or drugs.
“When we receive intel that a premises is selling vapes to young people or that adults are offering them out in high-footfall areas - such as outside schools or shops, ourselves and the council will use the resources available to us to develop an understanding of what is happening and stop offenders in their tracks before they develop influence and power over vulnerable youngsters who they could harm.
Since January 2023, Operation Vigilant has conducted six days of action, resulting in the seizure of 2899 illegal vapes. A further 20 thousand have been recovered by Trading Standards. There are currently 20 ongoing investigations which may result in prosecutions and/ or closure orders.
DCI Round continued: “As a partnership, we are absolutely committed to stopping young people coming to harm in the first place. As such, this ‘proactive’ work is a priority for us but our efforts don’t stop at gathering and acting upon intelligence – we are also focussing on engaging with young people, those who spend time with them, and the eyes and ears of our communities to raise awareness of the issue.
“If you have information about the sale of or provision of illegal vapes to young people, please be assured that we want to know so we intervene - you are strongly encouraged to report it.”
GMP can be contacted via gmp.police.uk or 101. In an emergency, always dial 999. Reports can be made anonymously via the independent charity – Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.