VRP Launches ‘You Know Who’ – a campaign that asks Sefton communities to help vulnerable people stay safe
Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP) is pleased to launch ‘You Know Who’, a joint campaign with Merseyside Police and Sefton Council, which will explain how – and why – drug gangs are exploiting vulnerable people in Sefton, and how residents can help to keep their ‘at-risk’ family members, friends and neighbours safe.
'You Know Who’ is a pilot campaign project, which has been launched in Sefton where a number of vulnerable people have had their homes invaded, and taken over, by local drugs gangs who commandeer it as a base from where they sell illegal drugs, grow cannabis and store weapons.
The campaign explains the criminal trend for home invasion, known as ‘cuckooing’, which can allow gangs to continue criminal activity under the radar. By taking over the home of a vulnerable person, who might suffer from learning disabilities, addictions, or low levels of confidence, gangs believe they can go undetected. The potential serious violence and misery that they bring can affect the quality of life for all the community.
‘You Know Who’ tells residents that, if they ‘know who’ might be at risk, they can tell the police about it anonymously – without anyone knowing – by returning a flyer to Marsh Lane police station, or they can go online to: www.youknowwho.info and fill in the form. Once the team receives the information, they act quickly to locate them to carry out a safeguarding exercise.
“We are very pleased to collaborate with Merseyside Police and Sefton Council by producing a pilot campaign that intends to impact the culture and incidence of serious violence in the Sefton area by reducing risks to vulnerable residents,” says Detective Superintendent Andy Ryan, who leads Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership (VRP). “If we see successful results, the ‘You Know Who’ model can also be rolled out into other areas of Merseyside where cuckooing is regretfully taking root.”
“The ‘You Know Who’ project, conceived by Merseyside’s Violence Reduction Partnership, will complement Marsh Lane’s Operation Lamprey, which was created three years ago to reduce the incidence of cuckooing in some areas of south Sefton,” says Sgt Ray Mavrakakis, who heads up Operation Lamprey at Marsh Lane police station.
“This project is important because it will show the drug gangs that the strength and bond of local communities will not allow the drugs gangs’ criminal and violent behaviour to take over and abuse vulnerable neighbours, friends and family members. There is zero tolerance to the intimidation, serious violence and exploitation associated with cuckooing. We have faith that ultimately, residents will follow their gut instinct and report anything suspicious because they know they can do it anonymously, without anyone ever knowing,” says Ray.
Posters, direct mailers through residents’ letterboxes, social media and a large piece of urban artwork in The Strand shopping centre in Bootle bring attention to the campaign’s messages and the ambition to receive information, which will safeguard vulnerable people.
“We support the VRP’s ‘You Know Who’ campaign 100%,” said Cllr Hardy, Chair of Sefton’s Community Safety Partnership. “In recognising those pockets of our communities that need extra support to stay safe, this excellent pilot campaign will give communities the confidence to identify vulnerable people and the behaviour linked to cuckooing and also offer them the reassurance that, by telling someone about them, they can do so safely, without anyone ever knowing.”
Flyers will be distributed by both Royal Mail and by Sefton Council to 36,000 homes in south Sefton and the website can be found here: www.youknowwho.info