Taxi drivers in the West Midlands have joined the fight against child sexual exploitation (CSE), as part of the regional See Me, Hear Me campaign.
As part of the campaign, thousands of licensed Hackney carriage and private hire drivers are receiving information about child sexual exploitation – including warning signs to look out for in young people, as well as action to take if they are concerned about a child.
Cabbies will carry postcards with them highlighting behaviour in children and young people which might indicate child sexual exploitation. The postcards – which bear the slogan “We need your eyes and ears” – warn them about unusual behaviour in a child, or seeing young people or groups of men being dropped off at certain locations. The postcards will also give contact details of who to contact in case of concern.
West Midlands lead for tackling CSE, Stephen Rimmer, said:
“Nationally, taxi drivers have been highlighted as a problem factor in relation to children and young people at risk of abuse and exploitation.
“However, local authorities and the police across the West Midlands want taxi drivers to be trained and supported in being part of the solution, not the problem.”
Chair of Birmingham City Council’s Licensing and Public Protection Committee, Councillor Barbara Dring, said:
“Our licensed drivers are in a position to act as our eyes and ears to spot activity or behaviour that may be linked to child sexual exploitation – such as being asked to transport unaccompanied young people to licensed premises, young people with friends who are older, or making journeys during school time.
“We are writing to all our licensed drivers with advice on how to report suspicious behaviour – it includes information on the national See Me, Hear Me campaign.
“We will be arranging to deliver bespoke training for drivers in the coming months.”
Chief executive of Solihull Council and regional CSE lead, Nick Page, added:
“Child sexual exploitation has been a hidden crime for far too long.
“It can affect any child, any time and can happen anywhere. Preventing it has to be everybody’s responsibility.
“In the latest phase of this campaign, we are raising awareness of CSE among taxi drivers, to give them the information and the confidence to recognise the signs, so they can help keep vulnerable children safe.
“We must all work together to protect our children from this horrific abuse,” he added.
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