‘We’ll Remove Problem Kids From The Streets’
Young children on the streets at night are to be taken to a “safe house” by police. Officers will use powers from the Children’s Act to remove youngsters seen prowling estates in north Liverpool or drinking booze in public.
The move is part of ongoing attempts to crack down on guns, gang crime and anti-social behaviour in the area. Merseyside police said the safe house – probably a converted community facility – would be in place within a fortnight. It will be used to care for youngsters temporarily if their parents cannot be traced.
Officers will be taking children from the streets of Norris Green, Croxteth, Fazakerley and Warbreck. In past weeks, 20 children from the Norris Green and Croxteth areas have already been taken home by police as part of the crackdown.
Chief inspector Bill McWilliams, heading the Staysafe operation, has spent 18 months studying the best ways of policing gun and gang crime, including work in Los Angeles. He said: “If I see a child of 10 on the street at night or a young child drinking alcohol, to me as a police officer there is a risk of them suffering harm. It might seem a bit draconian. But this is about protecting vulnerable young people and children and making parents aware what their responsibility is.”
The Home Office has funded the initiative. If successful, it could be introduced across the force. It will be run in conjunction with Cobalt Housing, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service, the city council, North West Regional Ambulance Service and Liverpool Anti-social Behaviour Unit.
A letter will be sent to more than 11,000 parents in the area and to schools explaining the aims of Staysafe and asking for support. Parents will be expected to play their part in protecting and educating their children and social services staff will be working with the children and parents.
Chief inspector McWilliams said: “I firmly believe that the overwhelming majority of our young people should not be demonised because of a misguided minority. But I must stress that for those young people involved in criminality we will be taking a tough stance.
“Parents who are not willing to take responsibility for their children need to be aware that we will be looking at using a variety of police powers which allows police officers to take young people into police protection if they are at risk of significant harm.”