Child Exploitation Guidance for Taxi Drivers
Child Exploitation (CE), including Child Sexual Exploitation happens when anyone under the age of 18 is encouraged, forced or manipulated into criminal or sexual acts, often in exchange for something.
Everyone has a duty to act if they suspect a child is being exploited and being aware of it is the first step towards putting a stop to it.
Taxi drivers are in a unique position to help
Evidence shows that taxis are often used to transport children (both girls and boys) between hotels, pubs and other places where they are exploited. So it’s not just a good idea for taxi drivers to be able to spot the signs of exploitation, it’s their responsibility.
Exploited children are usually too terrified and ashamed to ask for help themselves. Taxi drivers are in a unique position to notice when all may not be right with passengers in their vehicle, pass their concerns on to the police – and potentially save a child from the nightmare of exploitation.
It’s never the child’s fault
Exploitation of children is a crime that can affect any child, anytime, anywhere, regardless of their social or ethnic background. CE and CSE can be carried out by individuals, by street gangs or by groups. It can be motivated by money or by sexual gratification. But in all cases, there is an imbalance of power – vulnerable children are controlled and abused by adults or by other children.
The grooming process
Perpetrators gain control over children by grooming them, this can be in person, via mobiles or online, offering excitement, drugs, alcohol, gifts and affection. At first, this control may take the guise of ‘romance’ or ‘friendship’.
But once a child does something – even something really small – that they know they might get ‘in trouble’ for, they become vulnerable to blackmail. As the exploitation gets worse, terrifying threats and violence may be used to keep children compliant. They are sexually exploited not just by the original perpetrators but often by many other abusers.
It’s a trap
Exploited children are trapped because they often believe the abuse is their own fault – they fear they will be blamed or punished if they tell anyone what is happening. They are ashamed of what they are forced to do and are scared they will not be believed.
In many cases, children believe they are in a loving relationship with their exploiter. What’s more the perpetrator will do everything they can to isolate children further by convincing them that their families do not really understand or love them.
What to look out for (in the day as well as the night)
- Young people (both girls and boys) being collected and taken to hotels/b&bs/parties at odd times
- Young people being picked up from other cars
- Young passengers who look worried, frightened or distressed in the company of adults
- Young passengers who are in a vulnerable state due to excessive drink or drugs, and who don’t know where they are going, accompanied by adults
- Young passengers being dropped off at any location that causes you concern.
- Frequent suspicious activity in the same place
- Men who regularly request taxi rides to and from location – taking young people with them.
- Young passengers going to A&E or clinics accompanied by someone who is not a parent
What to do
Make a note of your information and call the police on 101 if you require a non emergency response or advice. Intelligence and information which may be useful to the police can be reported anonymously via Crimestoppers. The Crimestoppers number is 0800 555 111 (website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/). Crimestoppers can be used to report intelligence which will support action to combat exploitation, such as information about suspected perpetrators. However, it must not be used to report safeguarding concerns about individual children. These must be reported to the Integrated Front Door (0151 606 2008) in line with safeguarding procedures.
AWAYS DIAL 999 IF YOU BELIEVE A CHILD MAY BE IN IMMEDIATE DANGER
Don’t hesitate. Your information, however small it may seem, can help us build a bigger picture.
Information to share
- Locations and addresses
- Descriptions of people
- Car registration plates, make and models of vehicles
- Description on suspicious activity
- If you refuse to take a young person as a passenger because they are too intoxicated, tell your controller so they can get assistance to them by informing the ambulance service, police, or door staff
- Record any refusals – dates / addresses / phone numbers / descriptions
- Always get a specific address from passengers
The safeguarding board have published a short guide for taxi drivers to print out and have with you:
Free e-learning. Virtual College have developed an online course (30-40 mins) designed to help you:
- Understand child sexual exploitation
- Find out how to spot the signs
- Know who to report any concerns to
The free course can be accessed here:
The safeguarding board have also prepared a short powerpoint presentation for operators to use with staff:
The National Working Group (NWG) for CSE have published a number of excellent resources aimed at taxi drivers and operators:
Further detailed information about CSE is available here: https://www.wirralsafeguarding.co.uk/professionals/child-sexual-exploitation/