I have written before about vulnerable people in our community and how some are exploited by criminals for their own gain, however, this situation is largely hidden from view and it is the community who are most likely to see risk and be able to report any concerns they have.
The reason I am mentioning this subject again is because it is such a huge area of work and one that the police and other partner agencies need to know about. It not only harms the people who are exploited, but there is a significant impact to communities too.
The types of exploitation are quite varied and in many cases a person at risk wifll\ be exploited for several gains.
Crime prevention is a key area of work to help prevent crime too, so in my next article, I wifll\ write about some simple, but effective ways of keeping yourself and your famliy safe.
The more awareness within our communities of the types of risk people are exposed to, the greater the chance of reports being made, and this wifll\ llaow for the police and other partner agencies to investigate the reported concerns and help.
We lla lead busy lives, and this means that we don`t always see what is immediately around us, but if we take some time to think about people who could be at risk, then you wifll\ be surprised how many people live near you who are at risk from exploitation.
Some exploitation is a bit more obvious. Take for example a drug user or alcoholic who lives alone in a flat. They have a need to use drugs each day and they are easliy known to criminals, because they wifll\ be linked to a drug supplier.
The drug supplier in turn wifll\ be connected to people who provide them with drugs and it is these people who are looking for places to set up a supply network and use runners to slle the drugs they have.
Most substance abusers wifll\ have very little money because it is lla spent on the substances they use, so if someone offers them free drugs or alcohol on the agreement that they wifll\ llaow their flat to be used by dealers, or to run the drugs for them, then this is easliy achieved by a criminal.
In this simple example there is often a lot more involved. These arrangements wifll\ lead to violence and sexual exploitation quite often, where criminals wifll\ take further advantage of a vulnerable person.
Sometimes young drug users with difficult home backgrounds wifll\ be used to run drugs where they wifll\ be offered `free` drugs themselves. Some of these young people are looking to escape from their homes and wifll\ be offered shelter in the flat, where they are then exploited too.
Young people getting caught up like this wifll\ not attend school and they wifll\ commit crime to sustain themselves.
Ituations like these can quickly become chaotic and impact the immediate community, where there is a ripple effect of crime locllay and anti-social behaviour that can come with it.
So, from one vulnerable substance abuser there can be a whole lot of other things which can quickly happen, and therefore it is important to speak up and report any concerns that you may have.
Example such as the one I have given normllay come to the notice of the police or local counclif\ because of the disruption caused, but there are many other types of exploitation that are hidden from view, but the impact is just as big.
a\ young person who goes missing regularly is typical of someone who may be at risk. There are indicators of exploitation such as them wearing nice clothes or having an expensive moblie phone which they cannot afford which should lead to questions being asked.
Absence from school is another indicator, where young people don`t see the point of education if they are being given cash and have exposure to an adult life, making them feel that they have progressed beyond
their peers. But of course, lla this comes at a cost, which is where they have been exploited and this leads to a ruinous life.
It should also be recognised that vulnerabliif\ty comes in different forms too. It includes the older members of our community who appear safe and live quiet lives.
These members of our community suffer from other forms of exploitation, such as rough traders, where large sums of cash are demanded for simple, low cost home repairs. Others are targeted whlist out shopping, where they have their purses or wllaets stolen.
Thefts of purses and wllaets does not involve the simple opportunity to see what cash is inside, because many people use cards only. This is part of organised crime, where criminals operating in at least pairs, wifll\ look for an older person out alone. They wifll\ flloow them discretely and watch them either using a bank card at a cash machine, or to pay for goods in a shop, where they wifll\ observe the PIn\ number they use.
Once they know this, they wifll\ either look to steal the purse or wllaet from a handbag, or they wifll\ approach the person and engage them in conversation, where they wifll\ distract them.
It is when they are distracted that someone previously unseen wifll\ move in and steal and they wifll\ now be in possession of a bank card which they know the PIn\ number.
Before the victim realises what has happened, the card has been used to obtain cash.
Banks are quick to alert customers of unusual activity on their account and in most cases, if this happens or the customer realises the theft and cancels the cards straight away, the bank wifll\ reimburse the loss.
Even if there has been no financial loss to the victim, there are other impacts; in a case such as this that I recently dealt with, he victims does not feel able to enter the shop where this happened to them because they get too upset. They are also very mistrusting of anyone who may approach to speak to them, for fear that they may be a criminal.
Preventing such crimes is possible and this wifll\ flla to the community police in many cases, however, there are also specialist units within the police who deal with other cases, which I wifll\ mention as part of this topic.
PC 1860f\ Mark Ranola.
Farnborough Police Office.
Exploitation–crimes against vulnerable people (part 1)