Safeguarding vulnerable children on public transport – Campaign to raise awareness of exploitation

News / Tue 23rd Apr 2024 at 06:46am

THE Essex Safeguarding Children Board, alongside partners, will be running a day of action on Wednesday 24 April 2024 to raise awareness of child exploitation on public transport.

Outreach workers and community police will be visiting stations and transport networks across the county to engage with passengers, businesses and young people, talking to them about the signs of exploitation and where to report concerns.

Under the banner of Operation Henderson, the joint initiative is being run alongside Southend and Thurrock Safeguarding Children Partnerships in conjunction with British Transport Police, Essex Police, the Violence and Vulnerability Unit, The Railway Children, The Children’s Society, Greater Anglia, c2c, TfL, Social Care and local bus operators and local councils.

The outreach workers will be travelling along identified key routes in Essex and talking to members of the public as well as staff working within and around stations, from ticket collectors to engineers, coffee shop workers to cleaners, who all play an important role in safeguarding vulnerable young people, plus awareness training for these staff.

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 also provide some form of shelter and access to food and drink. A young person may use a station or form of public transport in an attempt to disappear. Bus and rail networks can also be used by offenders to traffic young people for the purpose of sexual and criminal exploitation.

David Archibald, ESCB Independent Chair/Facilitator on behalf of the Statutory Partners, said: “Child exploitation is a horrendous crime that can affect any child, from any community. Young people can be particularly vulnerable to exploitation when using public transport due to the anonymity these places offer. I’m proud that we continue to run the Operation Henderson campaign across Essex to raise awareness of how to spot exploitation and where to report concerns. Everyone has a role to play in helping to stop exploitation.”

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