Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Driving down child sexual exploitation

Solihull Council and West Midlands Police have been working in partnership to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation (CSE) among the taxi trade.

During a joint operation, licensing and police officers stopped 60 taxis at various locations in Solihull and nearby in Acocks Green and Sheldon. Drivers were given advice on the signs to look out for and what to do if they think CSE is taking place. 

Officers also asked drivers to display ‘Stop the Traffik’ stickers in the rear window of their vehicles to reinforce the message that child trafficking is not allowed in their taxi.

The operation forms part of the regional See Me, Hear Me campaign which was launched last year by the region’s local authorities and West Midlands Police, to raise awareness of CSE.

CSE is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, regardless of their social or ethnic background. It is child abuse and involves perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways, such as in person, via mobiles or online, to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them.

It can take place in many forms, whether through a seemingly consensual relationship, or a young person being forced to have sex in return for some kind of payment, such as drugs, money, gifts or even protection and affection.

Councillor Ken Meeson, Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing, said:

“Everyone has a role in helping to prevent and tackle CSE. We hope that by working directly with taxi drivers will make them more aware of how to spot the warning signs and minimise the opportunity for child trafficking to take place.”

Examples of signs that taxi drivers are being advised to look out for include: adults who appear secretive or are trying to hide the fact that they are with a young person; young people being picked up and taken to hotels, particularly at odd times of the day and night; young people under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol; and young people who, although with peers, look uncomfortable or intimidated.

Detective Inspector Jayne Gooderidge from West Midlands Police, added:  

"We are working closely with taxi drivers, hoteliers and those working across the spectrum of the licensing trade through the delivery of bespoke CSE awareness training, allowing them not only to recognise those scenarios which should raise concerns; but also what action should be taken if they suspect a child is at risk. 

“It’s really important that the local taxi companies, along with the wider community are alert to the warning signs of CSE and how they can help to protect young people. It is the responsibility of all agencies working with children to continue to improve our collective response. Breaking down barriers in information sharing is vital so that we can all work better and more closely together to protect the vulnerable."

Anyone who is concerned about the safety of a child should call West Midlands Police on 101, speak in confidence to Barnardo’s on 0121 359 5333 or in an emergency call 999.


Childline also has counsellors available online at www.childline.org.uk 

People can find out more information about child sexual exploitation at www.seeme-hearme.org.uk 

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