29 Jan Local Initiative To Safeguard Vulnerable Children on Transport Networks
Today (Monday 29 January) marks the start of two weeks of action in Basildon, Epping and Braintree to raise awareness of the vulnerability of young people to exploitation and abuse at stations and transport networks in parts of Essex. Under the banner of Operation Henderson, the joint initiative is being run by Essex Safeguarding Children Board, British Transport Police, Essex Police, Rail Operators and Basildon, Braintree and Epping Councils and the Children’s Society.
Research and local data have shown transport networks are used by vulnerable young people who may be at risk of child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation and trafficking. Young people often gravitate towards stations because they are busy, anonymous places that also provide some form of shelter and access to food and drink. A young person may use a station or public transport as a way to try to disappear. Bus and rail networks can also be used by offenders to traffic young people for the purpose of sexual and criminal exploitation.
Outreach workers will be visiting stations in the areas during the two weeks, speaking to staff and the public about spotting the signs of exploitation and what to do if they have concerns.
Phil Picton, Chair of the Essex Safeguarding Children Board said: “Child exploitation is a horrendous crime and one we can all play a part in helping to stop. Young people can be particularly vulnerable on trains, stations and transport networks due to the anonymity these places offer. I am pleased that we have been able to work with many partners across Essex to begin to raise awareness of this and hope members of the public will get on board with this campaign and report any concerns they may have.”
Information passed to Essex Police and British Transport Police will be looked into and further action taken where necessary.
The two forces will also be working together to identify and locate any vulnerable children who are reported missing and might be using the transport networks.