Police launch operation to target traffic issues and child exploitation in Portsmouth city centre
Main article content
Police in Portsmouth have launched Operation Weigh as part of their work tackling issues around traffic management and the prevention of child exploitation in and around Commercial Road.
Officers from Hampshire Constabulary’s Portsmouth Central neighbourhood policing team, the roads policing unit and Portsmouth’s High Harm team joined forces with Portsmouth City Council’s community wardens and traffic enforcement officers, Motiv8 and local youth community centre workers last night (Thursday 7 April) in the city centre.
The operation is in response to concerns raised by the local community around traffic-related issues in the area, particularly in the area between Spicer Street and Commercial Road, which is an area designated for use for bus, taxi and loading access only.
There is currently one loading bay within this area that delivery drivers are permitted to park within in if they have a contract to collect food from the local areas, however we have been made aware of an increasing number of reports of online delivery and private use vehicles using this space without job allocation, along with bus lanes and pavements.
This has become a problem due to the heavy flow of traffic in the area, meaning that buses and taxis have been finding it difficult to manoeuvre safely in what is a busy pedestrianised area.
We have also been made aware of groups of teenagers congregating in the vicinity, some of which have been threatening and intimidating towards isolated drivers and some of which have been placing themselves at risk of exploitation by other adults in the area.
The operation resulted in six civil parking enforcements, the seizure of a moped and notices for untaxed vehicles.
PS Colin Kirby of the Portsmouth Central Neighbourhood Policing team said: “We were pleased with the results of Operation Weigh and felt that it provided an important opportunity to enforce where necessary, engaging with and educating drivers entering the area on the traffic laws and regulations. We were also able to educate local outlets, members of the public and regular vehicle users in the area on how to encourage safe working and how to identify the risk factors of child criminal and sexual exploitation.
“We know there have been concerns raised recently around road safety in this area and we are committed to tackling any issues so that people can use the area safely.
“We’re also keen that people in and around the area recognise the signs of child exploitation and report this to us. Our priority is making sure that those exposed to exploitation, criminality and harm are offered the support and safeguarding that they need. The protection of our young people and children is at the heart of everything we do.”
Kevin McKee, Parking Manager for Portsmouth City Council, said: "We were pleased to work with the police in Operation Weigh as we have had a large number of complaints about vehicles waiting in this area and causing a danger to others. Traffic enforcement is essential for the safety of our city."
Spot the signs of child criminal/sexual exploitation
Signs of a child or young person being in an exploitative relationship can vary. Some examples are:
Going missing from home or care
Misuse of drugs or alcohol
Involvement in offending
Repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancies or terminations
Absenteeism from school
Deterioration in physical appearance
Evidence of online sexual bullying
Evidence of vulnerability on social networking sites
Emotional distance from family members
Receiving gifts from unknown sources
Recruiting others into exploitative situations
Poor mental health
Thinking about or attempting suicide
If you suspect a person of carrying out child criminal or sexual exploitation, or think someone you know has been a victim, or may be soon, visit our How to report possible child abuse page or call our non-emergency number, 101
If someone is in immediate danger of harm, please call 999 now.