Putting the safety of kids first

As part of Child Safety Week, Heart's focusing on keeping youngsters safe from harm, whether that be out on the street, at home or in the water.


Is your generosity towards your children actually making them a target for criminals?

This week, Heart exclusively revealed one child in Essex is mugged every 36 hours on average, and the youngest victim here was aged just 6.

The rate's actually lower than in previous years, but research suggests kids are easy targets because they often have the latest expensive gadgets like smart phones.

Essex Police has this advice: "hide anything of value they carry - music players, mobile phones and other equipment should not be on display to tempt would-be thieves or professional criminals.

People should consider their surroundings and pay attention to who is around them in town centres, and in parks and alleys it's better to stick to well-lit areas."


On Tuesday mums and toddlers got a visit from Essex Fire Service today to cut accidents as part of Child Safety Week.

Firefighters visited Davenents and Northlands children centre in Pitsea to teach them about staying safe at home, the dangers of playing with matches, and hoax calls.

The service says it is important children get safety information at a young age - as that is when they're most curious about fire and dangerous objects.

Crew Manager Andre Turner said: "Statistics show children of all ages play with things like matches or cigarette lighters if they find them, but if we get the message across when they're young it benefits them and us."

"We're also seeing fewer hoax calls to the fire service in the Basildon area which is great news because there are fewer wasted call-outs, and we now have procedures in place to catch kids that do make them."


More than a thousand kids from 37 primary schools in Uttlesford have been taking part in special 10-minute interactive workshops. Each of the 10 sessions covered things like railway safety, road safety, drugs and alcohol, smoking, internet, criminal damage awareness, bullying awareness, shoplifting and first aid.

Crucial Crew's a scheme organised by the local Community Safety Partnership to help youngsters gain skills they might not in the classroom by meeting organisations including Essex Police, British Transport Police, Uttlesford District Council, Essex County Council, NHS West Essex, Thames Ambulance Service and Essex County Fire & Rescue Service.

The idea's to equip children and young people to cope with dangerous situations, accept responsibility for their safety and that of their family and friends, make sensible decisions and learn social responsibility and citizenship.

Uttlesford District Council Community Safety Officer, Martin Ford, said: “Crucial Crew is an annual event that has been running since 1996.

“Every year we receive nothing but positive feedback from teachers and children alike. This year may well have been the best yet, with a very wide selection of safety sessions from all the organisations involved.

“This event requires a great deal of hard work from everyone involved, but the help this provides to the 1,000 kids that come through the doors is absolutely invaluable.”


Just last month, 18 year old Lawrence Patnel from Harlow drowned in a lake in Nazeing after getting into difficulty in the water.

With the summer holidays fast approaching, more youngsters are likely to go for dip to cool off in the sunshine and the Royal Society for the prevention of Accidents is now issuing a new warning about the dangers of swimming in unsupervised areas.

Rospa say young people and parents need to stop and think of potential hazards before taking the plunge.

Head of leisure safety at the charity, Peter Cornall told Heart: "We're not saying to people not to go swimming, but actually think about some of the safety issues - can I get back out again? can I cope with conditions when I'm in the water? is there anyone around me who, if I do get into difficulty, could raise the alarm?"


Over the past few years, the internet's become a daily resource used by people of all ages but not all people are aware of its dangers and how to implement safety measures, which is why Essex Police have held a seminar to teach parents about keeping their kids safe from paedophiles online.

Heart was invited to Laindon’s James Hornsby School on Leinster Drive, where the Essex Police Online Investigation Team (POLIT) led the seminar.

The idea's to highlight to parents the dangers of the internet through social networking sites, online gaming and other internet facilities and demonstrate measures to help parents in controlling their child’s online behaviour.

Ds John Woodley said: “The research we have undertaken demonstrates the need to improve society’s response to the problem of internet safety. I will be giving real life examples of situations we have encountered and dealt with in the hope that this will better inform parents. This is not intended to be a technical session and is very much based around the 'average' internet user.”

POLIT was set up to deal with all internet offences involving the possession and sharing of indecent images of children. They also deal with all offences where paedophiles groom children online with the intention of meeting them, and where children are incited to engage in sexual activity throughout Essex Police.