Three women who befriended vulnerable men to take money from them have been issued with court orders to protect the men they targeted.Advertisement
Police, Preston City Council, housing associations launched Operation Wolf after they learned the women were seeking out older men to exploit them.
Their victims are usually isolated and often have learning difficulties or dementia, making them more vulnerable and susceptible to being groomed.
As part of the operation, civil injunctions have been secured by Places for People with support from Lancashire Police.
Sheena Thomason, 46, of Tennyson Road, Preston was given a 12-month civil injunction until 12 August 2021 and is not allowed to visit the locality of Molyneux Court, Preston, cause harassment or engage in threatening behaviour.
Stacey Cummings, 35, of Elizabeth Street, Preston received a two-year civil injunction until 17 August 2022. Stacey is not allowed to enter the area around both Molyneux Court and St Paul’s Court, Preston and is forbidden to cause distress, nuisance and annoyance to any person residing or visiting the locality of St Paul’s Court.
In addition, a further woman from Preston was issued with a Community Protection Warning in conjunction with Preston City Council and supported by Lancashire Police, after reports she had been targeting vulnerable people looking for money and goods.
Sergeant Dan Wood from Preston Police said: “These types of incidents are particularly cruel given they involve extremely vulnerable people and amount to grooming and exploitation for money.
“As the cash is often willingly handed over to people by victims who believe the offenders are their ‘friends’, it makes it very difficult to prove a crime has happened. However by taking this multi-agency approach we are able to work with our partners to do what we can to protect these vulnerable members of our society.
“Sometimes, victims feel embarrassed or ashamed about what has happened and don’t want to speak to us about it. I want them to know it is not their fault and I would encourage them to please come forward so we can stop this happening to others. We will support you.
“We will continue to work with Preston City Council and Places for People to keep an eye on this issue and take action where we can.”
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Councillor Robert Boswell Cabinet member for environment and community safety at Preston City Council added: “The results so far on this operation are a testament to the hard work of officers and shows what can be achieved by working together.
“It takes a multi-agency approach, using all the powers each organisation has available to tackle this type of callous behaviour towards vulnerable people.
“I hope this sends a message – to those who are victims that it’s vital you speak out and report anyone taking advantage of you or your loved ones, and to those involved that exploitation will not be tolerated and robust action will be taken.”
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If you, or someone you know is being exploited, you can call 101 or email details to us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also make sure that if you know any elderly male relatives that you make them aware of this type of behaviour to help them avoid becoming a victim.