Last updated by Stephanie.Rosser@essex.gov.uk on Tuesday, June 1, 2021
A partnership campaign is launching today (Tuesday 1 June) to raise awareness of child exploitation at stations and transport networks in Essex. Under the banner of Operation Henderson, the joint initiative is being run by the Essex Safeguarding Children Board, Southend and Thurrock Safeguarding Children Partnerships alongside partners including British Transport Police, Essex Police, the Violence and Vulnerability Unit, The Railway Children, Reach Every Generation, rail operators and local councils.
Local outreach workers will be engaging with young people at stations around the County, talking to them about their experience of lockdown and how this has impacted them and their relationships. They’ll be raising awareness about signs of exploitation they may spot in their friends, and where to go if they need help (for themselves or their friends).
Research and local data have shown transport networks are used by vulnerable young people who may be at risk of sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and trafficking. Young people often gravitate towards stations because they are anonymous places that also provide some form of shelter and access to food and drink, and with restaurants and non-essential retail back open for business we know footfall in and around stations will begin to increase.
As well as members of the public, all staff working within and around a station, from ticket collectors to engineers, coffee shop workers to cleaners, play an important role in safeguarding vulnerable young people. Operation Henderson is an ongoing campaign and as well as the outreach work, there will be targeted work with local businesses.
Further information and campaign resources can be found here.
Concerns about child exploitation can be reported to the Police on 101 or anonymously via Crimestoppers. If there are concerns about suspicious activity in the train station grounds the BTP text line number can also be used 61016.