Posted: Fri 18th Mar 2016

ONYX Team On The Move

This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 18th, 2016

A specialist policing team which identifies and works with children and young people who are most at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation is set to move to its permanent home. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The ONYX team, which is headed by Detective Sergeant Sarah Fellows, is moving from its current base at St Asaph to the Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) in Colwyn Bay. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Collecting and sharing information and data with other agencies is the most effective way of identifying not only those children and young people who are at risk of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) but also identifying those individuals who present that danger within our communities” said Det Sgt Fellows. “Whilst we already have an excellent working relationship with our partner agencies actually being co-located within the SARC along with specialist staff from Barnardos , Social Services and BCUHB will greatly improve communication between us and will make the sharing information more efficient.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Det Sgt Fellows added: “With us all being located within the same building, closer working will also ensure that we will all gain a greater understanding of our roles, responsibilities and the challenges we face.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

It has been the intention from the outset for the ONYX team to be a multi-agency team based at the SARC. Following the completion of building work, they are set to move within the next week and once in place, they will continue to link in with various other specialist teams within the force such as the Paedophile Online Investigation Team (POLIT). ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

The ‘Onyx’ team was launched in October last year and is dedicated to identifying and working with children and young people who are most at risk of CSE. The role of the officers involves gathering intelligence about CSE in order to identify the current picture across North Wales – where it is happening, the victims and those responsible. The police officers on the Onyx team who all have experience in Public Protection, also play a part in investigating any offences identified. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Sexual Assault continues to be recognised as an emerging threat nationally. Work continues by North Wales Police to raise awareness of CSE internally, amongst partners and the public. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation is a priority for North Wales Police,” said Assistant Chief Constable Richard Debicki. “Working with our partner agencies and members of the community is central to our aims, particularly in regard to identifying and safeguarding those who may be at risk of this type of hideous crime. The co-location of the ONYX team within the SARC will also assist in identifying and bringing to justice those who target children and vulnerable young people in this way.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

North Wales Police and Crime Commissioner Winston Roddick CB QC said: “Sexual offences against children are vile, despicable crimes and tackling them is a key objective of my Police and Crime Plan. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“The setting up of a dedicated team to deal with these awful offences has led to a significant improvement in the way they are investigated and the building of victims’ confidence in the police response. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

“This move to Colwyn Bay centralises North Wales Police’s response to this problem and is an example of the multi-organisation partnership working which is key to bringing the perpetrators to justice and to helping their victims.” ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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