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Look closer to spot and report signs of exploitation

Across the country, young people are being manipulated, sexually abused, forced to launder money and deal drugs. Exploitation isn't obvious. But it happens everywhere. And you can stop it.

Get to know the signs of child exploitation and how to report it through our award-winning #LookCloser campaign with the British Transport Police and National County Lines Coordination Centre. Together we can protect children from this abuse.

What is exploitation and where does it happen

boy standing in train station alone

Visible in public

When someone builds a relationship with a child to manipulate them, this is known as grooming. It happens online and offline. The child may then be sexually abused, forced into labour, made to launder criminal money, or coerced into transporting drugs or stealing from shops. These are types of child exploitation. 

Young people are targeted at fast food outlets, shopping centres and parks. They are forced to travel on trains, buses, coaches and use roadside services for rest stops. It can also happen 'behind closed doors' in hotels, salons, car washes. Or online through gaming platforms and social media.

It can happen anywhere and any child can be exploited. By learning to spot the signs and how to report them, we can keep children safe from this abuse.

young girl on phone in train station

Join our campaign

Join us and pledge to #LookCloser to protect young people from exploitation. 

By getting to know the signs and how to report your concerns if worried, we can keep more children safe from abuse.

Signs of child exploitation

Ask yourself, is a young person:

  • Travelling alone, particularly in school hours, late at night or frequently?
  • Looking lost or in unfamiliar surroundings?
  • Anxious, frightened, angry or displaying other behaviours that make you worried about them?
  • In possession of more than one phone?
  • Carrying lots of cash?
  • Potentially under the influence of drugs or alcohol?
  • Being instructed or controlled by another individual?
  • Accompanied by individuals who are older than them?
  • Seen begging in a public space?

Do you work in these industries?

If you work in any of these industries, there may be specific signs of exploitation you can look out for.

Do you work with young people?

If you work with children or young people, our #LookCloser resources could help you with your practice. 

If something doesn't feel right, don't wait, report it

Call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

You can also report to the police online. Only report your concerns when it is safe for you to do so, even if this is after the event that your concerns initially arose.  Do not attempt to intervene yourself. 

Text the British Transport Police on 61016

If you are on a train, you can text the British Transport Police. Information on routes of travel, addresses, appearance, and behaviour of a child can all help to protect young people. 

Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

If you have information on child exploitation and abuse or suspect it may be happening but want to remain completely anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online or on the phone.

Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000

The NSPCC helpline is staffed by trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support if you’re concerned about a child. 

Do you have concerns about a child you know or work with?

If you think a child you know or work with is at risk of exploitation or is being exploited, contact the social care team at their local council.

download #LookCloser resources

Look Closer Digital Pack

#LookCloser resources

Whether you work directly with young people, work in an industry where exploitation could be visible, or are a concerned member of the public, our #LookCloser resources help everyone play their part in stopping child exploitation.

It includes #LookCloser posters and leaflets, social media assets, a programme of learning events on child exploitation, explainers on grooming, financial exploitation and more. 

Download #LookCloser resources:

Any information you can give us will help us improve our future #LookCloser campaign. Thank you.