Taxi drivers and hotel/B&B staff in Eastbourne are being asked to help in the latest phase of an awareness campaign aimed at combating child sexual exploitation.
Since January this year Sussex Police, with the support of the Local Children Safeguarding Boards, has been delivering a Sussex-wide Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Campaign.
The first two phases targeted the public, parents, carers and children as well as professionals whose job means they come into contact with children on a regular basis. Phase three, which launches today (Monday 11 April) focuses on raising the awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation amongst taxi drivers and those who manage and work in hotels and B&Bs.
Due to how child sexual abusers groom and exploit their victims, evidence shows that taxi drivers and hotel/B&B staff are in a unique position in their occupations to help spot the signs of child sexual exploitation. Taxis are often used to transport children (both boys and girls) between hotels or B&Bs, and hotels/B&Bs are often used as locations to meet, groom and abuse children.
Child sexual exploitation is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their social or ethnic background. Child sexual exploitation is child abuse and involves perpetrators grooming their victims in various ways; in person, via mobile phones or online to gain their trust before emotionally and sexually abusing them.
Child sexual exploitation is never the child’s fault and everyone has a responsibility to know how to spot the signs of child sexual exploitation and how to share that information.
Detective Superintendent Jason Tingley, Head of Public Protection for Sussex Police, said, "Taxi drivers and those who work in hotel and B&Bs are able to spot predatory behaviour and vulnerability. In order for them to be able to help, it is important that people in both occupations are offered guidance and training to know what the warning signs of child sexual exploitation are and how to report that information.
"However small a piece of information might seem, it could be part of a much bigger picture and could prevent a child being exploited. As part of the campaign we will be sharing messaging encouraging taxi drivers and hotel and B&B staff to call 101 and quote Operation Kite with any concerns or information that could be child sexual exploitation related.”
Many taxi drivers across West Sussex have already participated in child sexual exploitation awareness training delivered by the charity Barnardos. This was a pilot scheme called Nightwatch. In addition to this, across Sussex, local councils and licensing teams are working collectively with agencies to offer child sexual exploitation awareness training to taxi drivers and hotel/B&B staff. This work is ongoing and Sussex Police are committed to working with partners to continue to focus on how and where we can make a difference to ensure children are safe from abuse.
Over the next three weeks, Sussex Police will deliver key messages through social media to taxi drivers and hotel/B&B staff and more guidance and information can be found on the force website www.sussex.police.uk/cse