POLICE officers turned Santa when they donated food, clothing and toiletries to some of the most vulnerable young people in East Lancashire.

The donations from officers, their partner agencies and families of people working in the public sector were donated to Nightsafe, to ensure youngsters between the ages of 16 and 25 will feel love and warmth this Christmas.

It was organised by the force's engage team, which safeguards children at risk of child sexual exploitation and child criminal exploitation.

Det Sgt Sheralyn Melton, who leads the team, said she had been overwhelmed by the response of colleagues in donating to the initiative and particularly moved by children of officers who had saved up their pocket money to buy and gift wrap presents for youngsters using the Nightsafe service.

Det Sgt Melton said: “Tackling homelessness in young people is about much more than shelter, but understanding the cause and addressing the factors that lead to that young person being homeless. By working together, we can start to understand and help provide a way forward and a clear direction for these young adults. By the time the children and young people get to Nightsafe, they have often experienced a catalogue of trauma - so it’s our priority to help understand and tackle the obstacles that stop them. By continuing to work together we can help young people out of a cycle of homelessness and into independent settled lives.”

Jay Ratcliffe, a volunteer coordinator at the charity, said: “It is absolutely amazing. If it wasn’t for donations like this our service users would be waking up with no presents and thinking it was just any other day. Hopefully this will show them there are people who care about them and they are loved.”

PC Louis Grant, from the Engage Team, who used to work at Nightsafe, added: “The gesture from my colleagues is fantastic. The service Nightsafe offers is priceless. When I worked here it was the only direct access place for homeless people in East Lancashire and that is still the case.”

To donate visit www.justgiving.com/night-safe