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What happens when you report child exploitation?

You spot something that makes you worried about a child’s safety. You report it. But what happens next? Here is how two people made a difference when they spotted something that didn’t feel right.


spotting children on the train

three teenagers waiting for train in a line next to each other facing platform

Long journeys to unknown towns

Zara is a train ticket inspector. One shift, while walking through the carriages, she noticed a group of young people without any accompanying adults. She overheard them say that they were travelling to a town a considerable distance away.  

One of them was talking about how they would be told where they were going when they arrived at the other train station. None of them were familiar with where they were travelling to. Zara thought this was strange. Something didn’t feel right. 

spotting exploitation on the train

They were clearly quite young, and Zara was worried about what was waiting for them at the end of their journey.    

She listened to her gut and called the British Transport Police so they could look into whether the children needed help. She provided a description of the young people and the stop they would be getting off.   

When the group of young people arrived at their destination, they were met by the police who ensured their safety  and supported them to return home. 

spotting exploitation in the ticket office

Travelling alone on a Sunday night

It was a Sunday evening. The train station was calming down after a busy weekend when a young person approached the ticket office alone to buy a one-way ticket to another town a long distance away.   

Malik, the ticket officer behind the desk was worried. Why was this child making such a long journey on their own, so late on a Sunday? When Malik asked why they were travelling, initially they couldn’t answer. Then their story kept changing.  

girl walking through underpass of train station

Spotting exploitation in the station

Malik and his manager didn’t feel comfortable letting this child travel alone so they contacted the British Transport Police.  

When the police arrived, they were able to talk to the young person and contact their parents. It was clear that they had no idea that their child was intending to travel anywhere that night.  

The police made sure that the young person was returned home, safe and well. To safeguard the young person going forward, a referral was made to local services to help protect them from any further risk of exploitation.    

boy looking worried on train

Help us stop child exploitation

By learning the signs of exploitation and how to get help, we can keep all children safe from harm.

reporting in hotels

Reporting makes a difference

It’s not just on the rail network where we can spot child exploitation.

One taxi company began noticing increasing numbers of young people taking journeys where the fare was prepaid in cash, doing quick drop offs and getting back into the same taxi

The staff reported this to the British Transport Police who were then able to uncover a highly organised network of criminal activity and prevent them from targeting yet more children.

Likewise, when hotel staff noticed something off in the interactions between a child and adult, they reported it to local police.

Investigations found the young person was being exploited and enabled them to get them the help they urgently needed while going after the abusers. The young person is now getting specialist support and their future feels hopeful.

You could keep a child safe

Just like Malik, Zara, the hotel staff and taxi drivers, you could help a young person who might be in danger. By knowing the signs of child exploitation and getting help when something doesn’t feel right,  you could be the reason a young person is able to escape from horrific abuse.