Posted: 09 March 2020

Looking closer at public spaces like train stations to spot signs of child exploitation

As part of our Prevention Programme, we are working with British Transport Police, East Midlands Special Operations Unit and Forces region-wide to launch the #LookCloser child exploitation campaign.

This is a week of awareness raising activities focusing on how public spaces like bus and train stations, fast food outlets, roadside services, and hotels may be places where young victims of exploitation could be visible.

Why #LookCloser? 

magnifying glass

We know that public transport such as trams, coaches, trains and buses are used to facilitate the movement of a young person when they are being exploited, that fast food outlets and roadside services may be used for amenities and food stops, and hotels may be places where exploitation is occurring ‘behind closed doors’.

For each child or young person who is being exploited there will be different members of the public and staff working in the service industry who may see them and be in a position to protect them.  However, they may be unaware of the signs that this person may be being exploited and need help.

Knowing what you're looking for

We also know that unconscious bias can be a barrier to identifying young people at risk or being exploited and this can prevent support being available. 

#LookCloser highlights that any young person can be a victim of exploitation and although young people may not always appear ‘vulnerable’ or act like ‘victims’, it is our role to #LookCloser to identify and protect them from further harm.

We believe that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility and by asking people to look closer; learning to spot the signs of a young person being exploited and where to report those concerns, we can all help to keep young people safe and stop this abuse from happening. 

Looking closer in the East Midlands

We’ll be visiting train stations throughout the East Midlands, working with National Express in Leicester, delivering training to hotels in Northamptonshire and spreading the look closer message to the general public with a #LookCloser poster and leaflet campaign.  

Officers from the British Transport Police and all of the East Midlands Forces will also be out and about engaging with everyone from daily commuters, café workers, coach drivers and hotel receptionists.

We are also providing briefings to the police across the whole region on the importance of using the National Referral Mechanism and sharing our experience of working with young people to encourage professionals to #LookCloser and understand why exploited young people may not always appear vulnerable or act like ‘victims’.

Help us protect children and young people from exploitation

warning sign

If you live in the East Midlands, look out for our posters and leaflets and see what is happening on social media in your area.

You can also find our #LookCloser resources online so please read more about child exploitation and share our resources with friends, family and colleagues.

If you think you've spotted a form of exploitation, don't wait, report it:

If you're concerned about a child and think it's an emergency, dial 999, or if it's not an emergency call 101
If you're on a train, text British Transport Police on 61016 
Otherwise, contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111


By Laura Byron

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