Charity launches campaign to help prevent young people falling into a life of crime

The charity Crimestoppers is launching a campaign across the county appealing to young people in a bid to save children and young teenagers from becoming embroiled in crime and from feeling scared and helpless.

Statistics reveal that nationally 46,000 children are thought to be involved in gangs and thousands criminally and sexually exploited. Additionally, nearly 20,000 children were cautioned or sentenced in England and Wales up to April last year.

Empowering young people to speak up against crime anonymously and without fear of retribution is at the heart of Fearless.org. It’s hard to quantify how many young people in Northamptonshire are affected by crime and criminal behaviour, but they are more likely to experience higher rates of crime, and yet are far less likely to speak up.

There are many reasons for this: a young person might not realise something is criminal and wrong, they may not know who to trust, and they fear being labelled as a `grass’.

Fearless engages and helps inform young people about crime, encouraging them to talk honestly about their worries or concerns, and in turn offers brutally honest information about crime and its consequences. The charity wants to give young people the whole picture to enable them to make informed decisions.

The week-long digital campaign launches today across Snapchat and focuses on serious and organised crime.

Lydia Patsalides, Regional Manager for the East Midlands at the charity Crimestoppers, said: “Being labelled a grass is a terrifying prospect for young people, however when I ask would you want to get help for someone in trouble, or to protect a friend from pain and danger, overwhelmingly they say yes of course.

“There is a serious issue with drug gangs using violence, weapons and exploiting children, so it is not a case of appealing for people to ‘snitch’ or `tell’ on those they know, as our focus is on helping to keep young people and local communities safe from harm.

“Crime, such as County Lines, is incredibly harmful because the gangs are violent and don’t care about the consequences of their actions on the young and vulnerable people they use.

“Young people who commit crime from an early age are especially likely to become habitual offenders with depressingly long criminal careers, so giving them the information necessary to avoid being exploited and avoid being led into a life of crime is key to prevent this happening.”

Detective Chief Inspector Liz Wilcox, who is leading the latest Northamptonshire Police Matters of Priority week of action tackling serious organised crime, welcomed the campaign.

She said: “We are right behind this campaign. Snapchat is a widely used social media tool for young people and we hope the targeted messaging will reassure them that they can speak out against crime anonymously. It’s such an important thing for them to know that help is out there without a young person needing to disclose their identity.”

If you’re a young person and know who is involved in exploiting young people or involved in other crime, you can tell Fearless what you know whilst staying 100 per cent anonymously at Fearless.org.

For more information about the Fearless campaign visit Fearless.org.

Crimestoppers is an independent charity helping communities to ‘Speak up. Stay safe.’

• Our 0800 555 111 telephone number and website Crimestoppers-uk.org gives people the power to speak up and pass on information about crime 100% anonymously. In over 33 years, we have always kept this promise and it is led to thousands of criminals being convicted of a wide range of serious offences.

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