Child exploitation guidance for taxi and private vehicle hire drivers
Child Exploitation (CE), including Child Sexual Exploitation and Child Criminal 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.
Victims of ‘county lines’
Children are being exploited by criminal gangs to carry drugs from urban areas to coastal and market towns and villages. Many of these children travel between cities and rural towns and other locations via trains, private hire vehicles and taxis. This is known as ‘county lines’.
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. Child exploitation (sexual and criminal) 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 - children are controlled and abused by adults or by other children.
Exploited children are usually too scared and/or ashamed to ask for help themselves. This is why it is important that anyone using or working within transport can recognise the signs and indicators of exploitation. They may notice when things look a little out of the ordinary and will be able to pass their concerns on to the police with confidence, preventing children from coming to harm.
The grooming process
Perpetrators gain control over children by grooming them, this can be in person, via mobile phones or online, offering excitement, drugs, alcohol, gifts and affection. Once a child does something - even something really small - that they know they might get ‘in trouble’ for, they become vulnerable. As the exploitation gets worse, threats and violence may be used to keep children compliant.
They are exploited not just by the original perpetrators but often by many other abusers.