Updated: Sep 3, 2022
As part of national campaign Operation Aidant, police officers are appealing to individuals and businesses who can play a crucial part in stopping Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).
CSE occurs when anyone under 18 is encouraged, forced, or manipulated into sexual activity. This can sometimes be in exchange for gifts, money, or attention.
Often CSE involves the transportation of victims, this is where taxi drivers can be in a unique position to help by noticing the signs, reporting their concerns, and protecting children from being exploited.
The signs of CSE are:
Young passengers being taken to hotels or parties at odd times.
Children being moved between vehicles.
Victims looking worried or frightened of the adults that they are with.
Victims may be in a vulnerable state due to drink or drugs, and unaware of their destination.
There might be frequent suspicious activity involving the same locations or people.
Children being taken to clinics or hospitals with people who aren’t parents or guardians.
Often, victims may be afraid of the consequences of admitting they are being exploited or be in denial so may not offer any further information when approached.
Derbyshire Constabulary Detective Inspector Beth Lee, who works in the Child Exploitation Investigation Team, said: “All reports of potential exploitation are treated with discretion and in complete confidence.
“CSE can be discreet and often takes place behind closed doors, reports from the public are therefore essential to protecting children and removing them from harmful situations. It may be a gut instinct or simply a bad feeling about something you have witnessed, nevertheless we urge you to report this as it may be the missing piece of a bigger picture.”
DI Lee emphasised: “We are constantly seeking information and intelligence around potential victims, offenders or locations of concern; whether businesses, open spaces or addresses. If you are unsure, the best option is to report this to us to allow us to investigate the information further.”
Led by the National Crime Agency, Operation Aidant takes place from the 22 August to 9 September.
As part of this, police forces around the country are focussing on activity to identify and safeguard victims of sexual exploitation.
You can also anonymously report concerns via CrimeStoppers.
If someone is in immediate danger, or it appears a crime may be in progress, call 999.