Looking closer at public spaces
Our #LookCloser campaign works with the National County Lines Coordination Centre and the British Transport Police to encourage members of the public to learn the signs of child exploitation and understand how to report it if worried.
We focus nationally on public spaces like bus and train stations, fast food outlets, roadside services, and hotels - places where young victims of exploitation could be visible.
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.
East Midlands and beyond
Earlier in the year we visited train stations throughout the East Midlands, working with National Express in Leicester, delivering training to hotels in Northamptonshire and spreading the #LookCloser message to the general public.
During a week of action, there was significant engagement from public, private and charity sector organisations across England, Wales, and Scotland.
We worked with the National County Lines Coordination Centre to successfully lead private sector companies, such as Uber, Stage Coach, Mega Bus, National Express, and Eurocar to agree to adopt the campaign.
Due to the success of the campaign in the East Midlands it has now launched nationally.
Help us protect children
We have also been talking to the police across the whole region on the importance of identifying child victims of modern slavery properly, making sure they receive support and not punishment.
By sharing our experience of working with young people, we encourage professionals to #LookCloser and understand why exploited young people may not always appear vulnerable or act like ‘victims’.
Read our #LookCloser resources to understand the signs of exploitation and ways to report it. Share with friends, family and colleagues to help us spread awareness.