Raising awareness of child exploitation

Tue, 10 Mar 2020

The East Riding Safeguarding Children Partnership (ERSCP) and Hull City Council are working with British Transport Police to raise awareness of child exploitation.

They will be holding information events along the routes of the Hull to Bridlington and Hull to Goole railway lines to highlight issues around child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation and county lines, in which children are exploited by criminal gangs to carry drugs from urban areas to rural towns and villages or from city-to-city.

It is recognised that trains, buses and taxis are often used to transport exploited children between these locations and safeguarding campaigners are hoping to raise public awareness by encouraging people to spot the signs of suspicious behaviour and know where to go to report it.

Staff from the statutory and voluntary sectors will be taking part in the information event on Monday, 16 March, during a week of activities in support of the National Child Exploitation Awareness Day.

The event will take place throughout the day on Monday, 16 March, from 8am-6pm, with professionals handing out information and giving advice at stations along the rail routes including Hull, Beverley, Driffield and Goole. Short information films from "Not in our Community" will also be shown at Hull station during the day.

Helen Jones-Brown, contextual safeguarding advisor of the ERSCP, said: "The aim of the event is to raise awareness, to connect with the community and create safe spaces for children and young people and highlight the service provision in Hull and the East Riding for anyone affected by child exploitation.

"Perpetrators gain control over children by grooming them.  This can be in person, via mobile or online, offering excitement, drugs, alcohol, gifts and affection."

"Once a child does something - even something really small - that they know they might get in trouble for, they become vulnerable. As the exploitation gets worse, threats and violence may be used to keep them compliant. They are exploited not just by the original perpetrators but often by many other abusers.

"Exploited children are usually too scared or ashamed to ask for help themselves. This is why it is important that anyone using or working within transport can recognise the signs of exploitation. They may notice when things look a little out of the ordinary and will be able to pass their concerns on to the police with confidence, preventing children from coming to harm."

Deborah Clark, Hull Safeguarding Partnership's manager for the vulnerable, exploited, missing and trafficked team, said:  "It is extremely important that local authorities and partner agencies work together within our local communities to raise awareness about the risk of exploitation and the services available to young people.  We hope this event generates discussion about risks faced by vulnerable children and young people, and how everyone can be part of the efforts to safeguard."

Humberside Police Chief Superintendent Darren Downs said, "We work constantly to tackle county lines drugs offences as we know that they have far-reaching consequences on our communities. 

"Some individuals use the rail and road network to expand their criminal activity.  They exploit vulnerable young people, making them travel to cities and towns far away from their homes.

"By identifying these vulnerable young people we can safeguard victims of not only county lines drug supply but also human trafficking and modern slavery offences.

"We hope by working together throughout this campaign and beyond we are able to safeguard these victims.  This will also better protect the people and communities of Hull and the East Riding, minimising the risk that county lines drugs supply presents to these communities."

Among the signs to look out for are children and young people who may:

  • be from another area so may look lost and have a distinct urban accent
  • be travelling during school hours or late into the evening
  • be with an older individual who appears controlling
  • be a victim of physical assault or unexplained injuries
  • be using trains while under the influence of substances, in an anxious state or travelling late at night unaccompanied.
  • be dropped off at any location that causes concern
  • have taxi fares paid by adults who do not travel in the vehicle.

Anyone who wishes to report information should call Humberside Police on 101 if they require a non-emergency response, alert train or station staff or report information anonymously on Crimestoppers - 0800 555111. If you know the name of a child or their home address, safeguarding concerns can be reported to the Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHaSH) on (01482) 395500.  If you believe a child is in immediate danger, ring 999.

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