Bus drivers from First in Sheffield are getting on board with spotting the signs of child sexual exploitation as part of an initiative to help them play a role in reporting concerns.
The partnership between South Yorkshire Police and First Bus will help advise drivers on what to look out for and how to report any suspicious behaviour to police.
A training session as part of the ‘Spot the Signs’ initiative took place this morning at the bus depot in Sheffield with dozens of drivers taking part.
First buses will also display A3 posters aimed at raising awareness of the signs of child sexual exploitation with all passengers.
Employees working in a number of other industries have also received the training including hotel staff, those working in the leisure industry and the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) is also asking its members to sign up to a code of conduct.
Bus drivers will be asked to look for signs including whether young people getting on their buses appear to be distressed, under the control of other people, being bullied or are drunk or truanting from school.
It is hoped the scheme will be rolled out across South Yorkshire if successful.
Sergeant Katherine Wallis, who delivers the training, said: “Young people regularly travel via public transport so it is vital that drivers know what to look out for and how to report concerns.
“The scheme will hopefully empower them to raise concerns at an early stage which allows police and other agencies to prevent harm and take action against potential offenders.
“We have already trained staff in a number of different industries who may come into contact with potential victims or offenders.
“By working in partnership with First in Sheffield we have even more eyes and ears on the ground to help us to protect young people from becoming victims of this despicable crime.”
Peter Mair, operations manager for First in Sheffield, added: “We’re pleased to support this important campaign to help prevent harm to children. Our staff live and work across our local communities and can play a valuable role in spotting signs of exploitation.”
For more information about all the work South Yorkshire Police is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation visit www.southyorks.police.uk/spotthesigns.