Campaign launched to help taxi and PHV drivers spot vulnerable children being used to run drugs

To help safeguard vulnerable children and protect them from gangs, the Home Office, Institute of Licensing and CrimeStoppers are working to increase awareness among taxi and private hire vehicle drivers, and licensing staff, of the signs to spot a potential victim.

The campaign highlights the possibility that thousands of children and teenagers - some as young as 12 - may be being exploited by criminal gangs to carry drugs to coastal and market towns.

They say many of these children travel in taxis or private hire vehicles in a criminal activity known as 'county lines'.

Taxis and private hire vehicles are said to be a popular form of transport for children being exploited by such gangs, and they may make a whole journey between the city and town in one, or else use one for part of the journey.

Signs for taxi and PHV drivers to look out for include:

  • A child, normally 14-15 years old, but can be as young as 12 travelling a long train journey alone.

  • The may be from another area, so may not be familiar with an area (may look lost) and may have an unfamiliar accent for the local area.

  • They may be travelling during school hours or unusual hours (e.g. late in the evening).

  • An obvious relationship with controlling, older individuals.

  • Suspicion of self-harm, physical assault or unexplained injuries.

  • Excessive receipt of texts or phone calls.

Taxi and private hire drivers who spot a vulnerable young person are asked to report their concerns to CrimeStoppers.

Image credit: Home Office/CrimeStoppers

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