[M]ore than 300 taxi drivers in Carlisle are to receive child sexual exploitation (CSE) awareness training.
The training, which has been made mandatory for all taxi drivers by Carlisle City Council, will help drivers to spot children and young people who may be vulnerable and understand how to help keep them safe from potential abusers.
New and existing taxi drivers from across Carlisle are taking part in the education sessions between February and May, the latest of which took place this week (Wednesday 14 March 2018) in the same week as National CSE Awareness Day (18 March 2018). The training is being carried out and funded by children’s charity, Barnardo’s and inputs on the courses are also being provided by Cumbria Constabulary.
Taxi drivers will be made aware of typical and concerning behaviours to look out for, have common myths surrounding CSE dispelled and be advised about how they can report any concerns to police.
Nic Dunn, Children’s Service Manager for Barnardo’s said: “We know that children from all backgrounds in all areas of the UK can be susceptible to grooming and exploitation, especially in today’s digital age with young people spending more time online than ever before.
“Thanks to the foresight of Carlisle City Council in implementing this training, hundreds of taxi drivers now know what signs to look out for to spot children who could be vulnerable to exploitation, helping to protect them from potential danger. These taxi drivers can act as eyes and ears in the community, especially during the nights.
“It’s important for night-time workers to be aware of the dangers – they are part of the solution and play an active role in working together with authorities to help tackle this issue.”
Detective Superintendent Vicki Ellis, Cumbria Constabulary, said: “We are delighted to be working with Barnardo’s on increasing the awareness of child sexual exploitation. By empowering as many people as possible with information on the signs of sexual exploitation we can hopefully put an end to the offences that are occurring.
“We are committed to tackling this crime and protecting young people. We will continue to work closely with Barnardo’s and our other partner agencies to ensure that children in Cumbria are safe from harm.”
Cllr John Bell, Chair of the Regulatory Panel, Carlisle City Council, said: “As chair of the Regulatory Panel I work closely with the Licensing Team to ensure Taxis (Hackney Carriages) and Private Hire Vehicles are suitable and safe for travel in. Raising awareness of child sexual exploitation through this training will now be mandatory for all taxi drivers. This will help to safeguard children in Carlisle.”
Wayne Casey, Chair of Carlisle Taxi Association said: “I attended this week’s training session alongside other taxi and private hire drivers from across Carlisle. It was extremely useful and all those that attended are now aware of what signs they can look out for in the future and how we can help to tackle this issue.”
The recent awareness training forms part of the work of Barnardo’s new Believe initiative – a preventative service to tackle child sexual exploitation in Cumbria.
The focus of the new Believe service is on prevention and early intervention, working with children aged from 10 to 18 years who are believed to be at risk of exploitation, as well as their families/carers. Children in primary and secondary schools are also being educated around age appropriate understanding of healthy relationships.
Workers from Barnardo’s also recently carried out Real Love Rocks CSE awareness training with Girl Guide and Scout leaders in Cumbria, so they could deliver the CSE awareness programme to their young people across the region. This Girl Guide and Scout training was funded by Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner.