The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board (NYSCB) is campaigning to raise awareness in the county about the dangers of child sexual exploitation and how local businesses can help safeguard children and young people.
Called Say Something if You See Something, the campaign’s aim is to work with local businesses so they learn to recognise the signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE) activities and know how to report it.
CSE includes grooming and trafficking of children and young people under 18 to involve them in exploitative situations and relationships where they receive some kind of reward for being involved in sexual activities. The rewards can include food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gifts, money or attention.
“The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board wants local businesses to be aware of the dangers of CSE and report any concerns they may have,” said County Councillor Janet Sanderson, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Children’s Services.
“As part of the grooming process, adults may meet young people or take them to places to develop a relationship of trust and make them feel special by giving them ‘treats’. A business can be misused for this kind of activity, so we want employers and employees to know the warning signs to look out for.”
The Chair of the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Board, Professor Nick Frost, stated that, “This is an important campaign that forms part of our overall work against child sexual exploitation. We need the whole community to unite against this most horrendous of crimes against children and young people.”
Businesses vulnerable to misuse can include hotels, bed and breakfasts, off-licences, pubs and nightclubs, as well as other businesses that provide goods or services that can be offered to children as gifts in exchange for sexual acts. These gifts can include free food, drinks or cigarettes; free transport; and free access to an entertainment venue.
The North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board has co-ordinated a number of activities being delivered by its partners across North Yorkshire. On 16 March, there will be training for staff working in holiday parks in the Scarborough area. Further training will be provided to businesses in the Richmond area on 21 March. A number of other events to support the Say Something if You See Something campaign have also been arranged across the county including:
- training volunteers in Hambleton and Richmondshire so they can go into local businesses, including hotels, taxi companies and pubs to raise their awareness of CSE and how to report any activities they are concerned about;
- including information about CSE in business social media and press publications;
- volunteers distributing leaflets about CSE in Harrogate, targeting hotels and taxi ranks;
- training sessions for holiday park staff in the Scarborough area with follow-up visits throughout the summer season; and
- awareness-raising activities with hotel and pub staff in the Scarborough area and safeguarding training for taxi drivers.
When a business has a concern and thinks a child or young person is being sexually exploited or trafficked they should report it. If they think someone is at immediate risk of harm, businesses should call the police on 999. In less urgent situations they should contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555111 or ring 101 for police help and advice. If a business feels a child or young person is at risk they can also contact North Yorkshire County Council Customer Service Centre on 01609 780780 or submit a referral (more information is available from http://www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk).
For more information and resources about the Say Something if You See Something campaign, including posters and presentations to give to staff, visit http://www.nwgnetwork.org/resources/resourcespublic?cat=74 or http://www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk/professionals/campaigns. For more information about the work of the North Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board, including access to free e-learning, training, multi-agency procedures and the latest safeguarding children news, visit the website at http://www.safeguardingchildren.co.uk or follow the Board on Twitter @NYSCB (https://twitter.com/NYSCB)