The Children’s Society #lookcloser campaign – Information for businesses

In this article:

The #lookcloser campaign will be launched from next week by The Childrens Society in partnership with UK police forces to raise awareness of child exploitation and abuse, with a particular focus on town centres and public spaces.

#LookCloser to spot and report signs of exploitation

Young people are being exploited and are losing hope, but it’s not always obvious. The #LookCloser campaign, developed in partnership with the National County Lines Co-ordination Centre and British Transport Police, encourages everyone to learn the signs of child exploitation and how to report it if worried. 

Everyone in society has a role to play in protecting children and young people from abuse and exploitation. If we learn to spot the signs, we can help keep them safe and stop this abuse from happening.

Knowing what to look for

Signs of exploitation aren’t obvious. This can be a barrier to identifying young people at risk or being exploited. 

#LookCloser highlights that any young person can be a victim. Although they may not ‘appear vulnerable’ or ‘act like a victim’, it is our role to look closer to identify and protect them from further harm. 

If we all learn to spot the possible signs of a young person being exploited, we can all help to keep them safe and stop this abuse from happening.

Do you work in these industries?

Banking

Children who are exploited often carry cash obtained from their exploitation and will visit bank branches to pay it into their abuser’s account. They may also be made to launder money or transfer criminal proceeds through their own bank account.

As employees of the banking sector you have a vital role to play to #LookCloser and report your concerns so that together we can support children to escape their abuse and prevent further children being targeted.

#LookCloser for signs of exploitation and abuse

Is a child or young person visiting your branch:

  • Anxious, frightened, angry, showing signs of neglect or displaying other behaviours that make you worried about them?
  • Behaving aggressively with you or other bank staff?
  • Visiting a branch far from the account holder’s address?
  • Paying in a large quantity of cash?
  • Being instructed or controlled by another individual? Or is someone keeping an eye on them from a distance?
  • Receiving frequent messages and calls? Do they appear anxious when answering?

Is there concerning activity related to a child or young person’s account?

  • Are they paying in small amounts frequently?
  • Is there more activity than you would expect to see on a young person’s account?
  • Are there cash deposits or transfers from unknown sources?
  • Are there a lot of transport or accommodation transactions on the account?

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait, report it

Call the police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency). Or if you’d like to report anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 08000 555 111.

Only report your concerns when it is safe for you to do so, even if this is after the event that your concerns initially arose. Do not attempt to intervene yourself.  

To learn more about how we can work together to prevent child exploitation and abuse, get in touch.  

Taxis, ride shares and private hire vehicles

Taxis, ride shares and private hire vehicles are sometimes used by perpetrators to transport young people for the purpose of abuse and exploitation.  

As a driver you may overhear concerning conversations a young person is having on the phone. The act of abuse or exploitation may not be visible but the control, coercion, grooming and its impact on a young person may be.

Whilst sharing a vehicle with a young person, you may be the only one to hear and observe signs of exploitation and abuse.

#LookCloser for signs of exploitation and abuse

Is a child or young person in your taxi or ride share:

  • Travelling alone? Unfamiliar with the local area?
  • Travelling at unusual hours (during school time, early in the morning, or late at night? 
  • Travelling to multiple destinations in one day or night?
  • Travelling long distances and paying for a journey that is expensive and would seem unrealistic for a young person to afford by themselves? 
  • Paying for journeys in cash or prepaid? Carrying lots of cash?
  • Anxious, frightened, angry, showing signs of neglect or displaying other behaviour that makes you worried?
  • Using words describing criminal or sexual activity?

As a member of staff working in a hire car branch, you may notice signs of exploitation and abuse. Is a child or young person: 

  • Being instructed or controlled by another individual
  • Appearing guarded around particular individuals
  • Anxious, frightened, angry, showing signs of neglect, or displaying other behaviours that make you worried
  • Accompanied by another individual with suspicious booking information.

Look out for fraudulent documents, payments in cash, regular bookings to different areas of the country or differences between names and addresses of those making the booking and those hiring the car.

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait, report it

Call the police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency). Or if you’d like to report anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 08000 555 111.

Only report your concerns when it is safe for you to do so, even if this is after the event that your concerns initially arose. Do not attempt to intervene yourself.  

To learn more about how we can work together to prevent child exploitation and abuse, get in touch.  

Delivery services

Postal workers, takeaway and delivery drivers are being relied upon more than ever during Covid-19 restrictions and national lockdown measures. 

As a delivery driver, you are working within communities and neighbourhoods, travelling through multiple public spaces during shifts. Therefore there may be opportunities for you to identify young people being exploited or abused either within public spaces or within houses. 

#LookCloser for signs of exploitation and abuse

Whilst delivering in the community, look out for children or young people who are:

  • Looking lost or in unfamiliar surroundings 
  • Regularly in a public space during school hours or late at night
  • On their own or meeting different adults who don’t appear to be parents
  • Being instructed or controlled by another individual
  • Accompanied by individuals who are older than them.

Exploitation and abuse can also be visible inside houses. The majority of sexual abuse happens inside the family home and vulnerable adults’ properties can be taken over by criminals and used as a base. If you are delivering parcels, takeaways or other items to a house, you may be one of the only professionals in a position to spot and report concerns. 

Things to look out for in houses:

  • Unaccompanied children visiting a house where only adults live
  • Young people who are anxious, frightened, angry, showing signs of neglect or displaying other behaviours that make you worried
  • Children with bruises, burns, bite marks or fractures
  • Appearing guarded around particular individuals
  • Shouting or violence towards a young person
  • Increased callers at a property
  • Increase in cars pulling up for short periods of a time
  • Increased antisocial behaviour at a property
  • Not seeing the resident for long periods of time
  • Unfamiliar vehicles at the property.

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait, report it

Call the police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency). Or if you’d like to report anonymously, call Crimestoppers on 08000 555 111.

Only report your concerns when it is safe for you to do so, even if this is after the event that your concerns initially arose. Do not attempt to intervene yourself.  

To learn more about how we can work together to prevent child exploitation and abuse, get in touch.  

If something doesn’t feel right, don’t wait, report it

Call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency

You can also report to the police online. Only report your concerns when it is safe for you to do so, even if this is after the event that your concerns initially arose.  Do not attempt to intervene yourself. 

Text the British Transport Police on 61016

If you are on a train, you can text the British Transport Police. Information on routes of travel, addresses, appearance, and behaviour of a child can all help to protect young people. 

Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111

If you have information on child exploitation and abuse or suspect it may be happening but want to remain completely anonymous, you can contact the independent charity Crimestoppers online or on the phone.

Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000

The NSPCC helpline is staffed by trained professionals who can provide expert advice and support if you’re concerned about a child. 

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