Ex-police officer ‘frustrated’ that young girls are being ‘blackmailed’ by gangs preventing them speaking up

4 November 2022, 17:03 | Updated: 4 November 2022, 17:11

This former officer is frustrated that it's hard to save young girls

The former officer told Shelagh Fogarty during her show today that it is “so hard” to get the girls out of gang influence because they are “so scared to speak up”.

A former police officer spoke to Shelagh Fogarty today about the strong influence gangs have on young girls and how threats to expose them prevent them from speaking up.

John in Bristol served for 10 years before leaving the force this year.

He said: “I dealt with a few child and sexual exploitation cases, and what I found at the time was they'd reel in one girl maybe 15 or 16 years old. They’d sell the world to her, and then they'd get her to reel in other girls that were even younger.”

“The youngest I remember dealing with was 12 years old”, he said, which one Twitter user described as “terrible”.

“It was very hard to get any of them to talk”, John continued, “because they’d take pictures and they'd use it as threats and blackmail so if they talk to anyone or they tell anyone they’d post in on social media.”

He added: “There was a grammar school close to the city centre. The girls in this grammar school were travelling in from all over the city to go here and they were the ones who were targeted.”

“When they wanted to meet up with their friends they'd come to the city centre and that is where they’d be targeted”, he explained.

“It was awful, it was so frustrating”, the former officer stressed, “because it felt like there was so little that we could do. We even knew who was doing it but without any evidence there, like I said it was just so frustrating.”

Shelagh Fogarty said: “I was talking to my brothers…who are police officers in Liverpool…they were telling me…more broadly what they’d seen over the years.

“They’d start picking kids up at the age of 12, 13 involved in drug deals and then no surprise that five six seven years later, ten years later they are the young men mainly who end up committing more crime down the line.”

“It’s just such a sorry tale isn’t it?”, she pondered.

“It is, it’s awful”, John agreed.

“You often find that before these children get involved with it, some of them they’re fine, they’re on a straight and narrow path and then all of a sudden they start becoming missing people, their grades start dropping at school - someone’s got them.

“You can see in their faces that they don’t want to be in it and you can speak to their parents, but unless that child is going to speak up for themselves there’s very little you can do.

“Kids these days, they are shut behind their phones sometimes, and I think we are in a society now where we don't speak as much face to face.”

Shelagh agreed, saying: “The online element of this is terrifying isn't it, because that is how they reach into any home, not just approach kids who are already demonstrably vulnerable.”

Earlier in her show, Shelagh mentioned that “the pressures of modern life on young people and kids aren’t necessarily being managed that well by the grown ups around them”.

She connected it to how a failure to pay close attention can lead to young people being caught up in county lines drug dealing for example.

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