Campaign launched to raise awareness of the exploitation of vulnerable children on public transport

Crime / Mon 2nd May 2022 am31 08:58am

ON Tuesday 26 April, a campaign, known as Operation Henderson, was organised to raise awareness of child exploitation at stations and transport networks in Essex.

The initiative is being run in partnership by Essex Safeguarding Children Board, Southend and Thurrock Safeguarding Children Partnerships alongside organisations including:

  • British Transport Police
  • Essex Police
  • The Violence and Vulnerability Unit
  • Greater Anglia
  • C2C
  • TfL
  • The Railway Children
  • The Children’s Society
  • Social care
  • Local councils

Passenger and business outreach

Local outreach workers and community police engaged with passengers, businesses and young people at train and bus stations along identified key routes in Essex, to raise awareness about signs of exploitation and where to report concerns.

As well as members of the public, all staff working within and around a station, from ticket collectors to engineers, coffee shop workers to cleaners, play an important role in safeguarding vulnerable young people.

Research and local data have shown transport networks are used by vulnerable young people who may be at risk of sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation, and trafficking.

Young people often gravitate towards stations because they are anonymous places that provide some form of shelter and access to food and drink. A young person may use a station or form of public transport to ‘disappear’. Bus and rail networks can also be used by abusers to traffic young people for the purpose of sexual and criminal exploitation.

Report concerns

To report concerns about child exploitation contact:

  • Police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency)
  • Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

If there are concerns about suspicious activity at a train station, contact British Transport Police:

  • Call 0800 40 50 40
  • Text 61016
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