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Grantham Journal column: We must face dangers of child exploitation and act against them

Labour councillor Charmaine Morgan.
Labour councillor Charmaine Morgan.

During our last communities and public health scrutiny committee meeting at Lincolnshire County Council a very serious subject was raised.

One of our members was aware of children and vulnerable young adults at risk of being groomed for sexual exploitation in her area. This is a delicate subject but one we must face if we are to protect the most vulnerable young people in our community.

It became clear that whilst there has been much media attention regarding human trafficking and child sexual exploitation, very few people know where they should go if they have a concern about someone they know, or if there is a particular meeting place for young people that could be attracting those who would exploit them.

Often under-age drinking, drug taking and sexual exploitation go hand in hand. I would like to say that Grantham does not have such a problem but the grim news is, according to the police representative on our committee, we do.

If you see anything that raises your suspicion, or if you know of anyone at risk, please contact Lincolnshire County Council’s safeguarding team on 01522 552222 or the police on 101. Both organisations have a public duty to protect those at risk and we all need to be vigilant to help them do this.

This week, at night, I was flagged down to help with a medical emergency. An elderly man had fallen into the ditch along Station Road, beneath the vertical metal fencing, and become trapped and seriously injured with suspected fractured ribs, banged head and underlying heart condition.

A couple from Eaton Road heard a whimper from the steel fencing that runs down from the railway station to the terraces when they took their nightly walk with their baby.

They stayed with the gentleman for over an hour as we waited in the cold for an ambulance to arrive.

All the time the husband supported the man to stop him rolling back into the ditch while the paramedics, who came almost immediately, tried their best to make the injured man comfortable.

As the gentleman lay in pain in the cold on the ground waiting, and, as the paramedics concluded he would be likely referred to Boston Hospital, it was a sobering reminder of how much we rely on our skilled NHS public service workers, why we must properly fund these important services and why we must fight to keep our ambulances and acute hospital services local.

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