Taxi drivers and hotel workers in Southwark are among those who will be trained to spot signs of child sexual exploitation in a new police initiative.
Operation Makesafe launched last week and aims to help some workers who come into contact with the public a lot identify potential child sexual exploitation victims.
Willing volunteers will be trained to look out for things like adults appearing secretive or trying to hide the fact that they are with a young person, or buying a young person food and drinks. Taxi drivers and hotel staff will be asked to keep an eye out for young people being picked up and taken to hotels, particularly at odd times of the day and night and adults who frequently attend premises with different young people.
A dedicated hotline has been set up to receive reports of any suspicious behaviour, which will be manned by specially trained police officers.
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Harper, from Southwark police, said: ” It is often the case that a child or young person does not see themselves as a victim of sexual exploitation and therefore it is essential that those who notice anything suspicious speak to police at the earliest opportunity.
“We are keen to ensure that businesses across Southwark as well as our local community are able to recognise the warning signs of CSE and alert us. Getting local businesses on board will help to identify, protect and safeguard those young people who could potentially be at risk.”
Cllr Victoria Mills, Southwark’s cabinet member for children and schools, said: “We are serious about tackling the issue of child sexual exploitation. Over the coming months, we will also be looking to increase awareness amongst parents, carers and communities in Southwark to learn more about the potential signs of exploitation and be extra vigilant of all young people in their care.”