Taxi drivers, hotel staff and those working at fast food outlets will take part in a training day tomorrow (Tuesday, June 18) to help combat child exploitation.
Police officers investigating the issue in the county have organised the training in Huntingdon as it is believed people working in these areas may witness key behaviour.
Some perpetrators use taxis to transport children to locations, often hotels, to be exploited. The offenders may regularly buy the victims gifts, or take them to fast food outlets as part of attempts to groom them.
In addition to representatives from local businesses, staff from nearby branches of McDonald’s will be attending the day to help workers identify when someone may be at risk of exploitation.
Both girls and boys can become victims of exploitation – with people they see friends or boyfriends taking advantage of them sexually or by coercing them into committing crime such as selling drugs.
Signs of exploitation include the child:
- Appearing drunk or under the influence of drugs
- Having an older boyfriend or friends
- Having expensive unexplained gifts, such as mobile phones, jewellery etc
- Seeming scared or overly secretive/evasive
It is hoped this free training event will increase knowledge of the issue and people’s confidence to report concerns.
Detective Inspector Sherrie Nash said: “It’s fantastic to have local businesses and staff from huge organisations such as McDonalds on board with this new initiative. Thank you to everyone who has signed up and committed to helping us combat exploitation.
“We believe people working in these areas are more likely to witness behaviour linked to exploitation. It’s therefore vital people know the signs and report any concerns, as we all have a responsibility to protect children in our communities.
“We want people to feel confident in reporting issues which could help us protect vulnerable children. If a situation doesn’t feel right, please trust your instincts and report it.”
For more information on the signs search for child exploitation at www.cambs.police.uk.
Anyone who is concerned a child is being exploited should call 101 or visit www.cambs.police.uk/report. In an emergency, or if a crime is in progress, always dial 999.