(News source: published on behalf of Surrey Police)
Serious and organised crime groups traffic drugs, people, de-fraud vulnerable individuals out of large sums of money and are adept at avoiding detection.
Today (Monday 27 July) Surrey Police and partners launch ‘See The Bigger Picture; a campaign that is aimed at raising awareness on how serious and organised crime groups operate, how even the smallest piece of intelligence can help to understand the bigger picture of their activities and some of the signs that members of the public can look out for and report to Surrey Police or Crimestoppers.
The first part of this campaign is centred around the exploitation techniques that drug dealers (often part of a serious and organised crime group) use to lure vulnerable people to transport or store drugs on their behalf.
In many situations an exploiter will observe their victim (frequently a child), finding out their vulnerabilities, their needs and wants. They will gain and develop their trust and dependency on the exploiter.
Once the victim feels indebted in some way, whether they’ve been ‘gifted’ money, alcohol or a pair of trainers, the exploiter will then test out the victim’s loyalty by asking them to do a favour. They may give them a sense of belonging and introduce them to more established members of the group.
The exploiter then looks to isolate the victim from family, friends and society. With it comes blackmail, humiliation and control as well as physical and psychological violence. Once involved it’s almost impossible to break free.
To help break the cycle of people naively being sucked in to the drugs dealing world, Surrey Police has created a 30-second video which shines a light on this recruitment tactic used by dealers, and the converse reality of the industry that is at the core of many other crimes.
Detective Chief Inspector Mark Chapman at Surrey Police said: “Drug dealers paint a false picture of a glamorous lifestyle – one of money, fast cars and expensive jewellery. They use this dishonest image to trick susceptible people into the drug dealing world by initially offering them something for nothing, whether that’s gifts, drugs or a fake friendship. Soon the victim feels indebted, threatened and trapped - a far cry from the lifestyle that was promised to them.
“This video seeks to prevent vulnerable people from being drawn in by helping them identify how they may be targeted, paired with the reality of how it feels to be exploited. The journey to exploitation is often expeditious and, as depicted in the film, a child that is being forced into criminality will be too terrified of the repercussions to speak up. This video also acts as a calling for parents, or indeed any members of the community, to be alert to the warning signs of exploitation. If you have information or are worried about someone you know, call us – we have a Child Exploitation Unit that helps safeguard people that have been forced into criminality.”
The warning signs of child exploitation are:
- going missing
- physical injuries
- Misuse of drugs or alcohol
- involvement in offending
- deterioration in physical appearance
- emotional distance from family members
- receiving gifts from unknown sources
- recruiting others into exploitative situations
- poor mental health
- self harming.
You can also pass information to https://www.fearless.org/en anonymously