Regional - Police operation seeks to stop troubled Bicester children, 9 - 15, being exploited and drawn into crime

A police operation is underway in Bicester in a bid to stop troubled children as young as nine from being drawn into a life of crime.

Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 11:25 am
Updated Tuesday, 14th December 2021, 11:26 am
Police are trying to prevent children as young as nine-years-old from being drawn into a life of crime. Picture by Getty

Thames Valley Police Superintendent Emma Garside, commander for the Cherwell and West Oxfordshire area, has told Cherwell District Council that Operation Jealousy is attempting to crack down on the potential for child criminal exploitation.

She highlighted the town’s problems with “up to 15 young people” but was quick to point out that despite their alleged actions, these children are vulnerable to being exploited by criminals.

“We have an issue in Bicester at the moment which Operation Jealousy is responding to,” said Superintendent Garside.

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“It is a partnership response where we have up to 15 young people, aged from about nine through to late teens, who are regularly going missing from home, truanting from school and engaged in crime and anti-social behaviour.

“Some of them are perpetrators themselves, all of them are victims and at risk of being exploited by others to offend.

“(This is) a good example of where we have worked with partners in the Bicester area to support those young people, safeguard them and their families and try to break the cycle of crime that some have got themselves involved in.”

It formed part of an address on the importance of work by the force’s neighbourhood teams.

“Neighbourhood teams would not be successful if they were not working in partnership with communities and all of the other providers, voluntary and statutory, that are operating across the district,” added Superintendent Garside.

She also said that drugs dogs and knife arches in night spots are among the measures being utilised to help prevent issues, including rising reports of drink spiking.

"Operation Jingle was launched last week, that is our response in the run-up to Christmas with licensed premises across the district," she added.

“We are doing a lot of work around educating licensees and door staff, particularly around drink spiking.

“We have had a number of reports of drink spiking happening in this area.