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31 January 2019, 09:15 | Updated: 31 January 2019, 09:17
Taxi drivers in the South Lakes are going to be on the frontline of stopping Child Sexual Exploitation.
They're being trained by Barnardo's to spot youngsters who may be vulnerable, and protect them from abusers.
Nic Dunn, Children’s Services Manager for Barnardo’s said: “We know that in today’s digital age and with young people spending more time online than ever before, children from all backgrounds in all areas of the UK can be susceptible to grooming and exploitation.
“By implementing this CSE awareness training, South Lakeland District Council have ensured that hundreds of taxi drivers will 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 night time when people’s actions may not be as visible to others.
“We would like all night-time workers to be aware of the dangers – they are part of the solution and can play an active role in working together with authorities to help tackle this issue.”
Sean Hall, principal environmental protection officer, public protection, said: “Taxi drivers in South Lakeland are a qualified and professional body of men and women who take their responsibility towards the public very seriously. As part of the wider multi agency partnership we draw on to safeguard children, they act as the eyes and ears of the district and can play a valuable role in alerting the authorities about vulnerable people needing help.
“This revised policy will strengthen the awareness of the potential exploitation of children and vulnerable adults and make our district a safer place.”
Detective Superintendent Vicki Ellis, Head of Public Protection at 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.”
Sarah Ibbetson, a taxi driver who attended this week’s training said: “The training was extremely valuable and highlighted to us that we’ve all got a role to play in tackling this issue. This training has given us the reassurance that it’s ok for us to get in touch with the police to report any concerns we have, and that the information we pass on is valued and will be treated seriously.”