Night workers will be more able to protect vulnerable children from sexual exploitation this Christmas thanks to pioneering work by Barnardo’s.
The evaluation of the year–long Nightwatch programme, carried out by a team of University of Bedfordshire academics, details how the pilot scheme has raised awareness among nearly 17,000 night time workers about how to spot children and young people who may be vulnerable and also to understand how to help keep them safe from potential abusers.
The independent evaluation - PDF 882.1 KB published today (Thurs 8 December) by the International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation violence and trafficking at the University explains how the programme was effective in raising awareness among night-time economy workers and exceeded its targets in the numbers of areas and businesses contacted.
Over the course of the pilot in 12 different areas of England, staff in pubs and clubs, fast food outlets, hotels, Accident and Emergency hospital departments, public transport hubs and other places open at night were trained to be more aware of the dangers facing children and young people after dark.
Barnardo’s Chief Executive Javed Khan said: “With more people out and about in the festive season, the signs of sexual exploitation could be more easily overlooked. But this project has created a vital network of eyes and ears after dark.
“We want all night-time workers to be aware of the dangers and play an active role in protecting children and young people from sexual abusers.”
Kate D’Arcy lead evaluator for the University of Bedfordshire said: “The implementation of Nightwatch has resulted in increased confidence and awareness amongst night time workers around the issue of child sexual exploitation. It has helped night time workers to identify child sexual exploitation. The report also includes examples where children and young people have been safeguarded from exploitation and abuse.
“We hope these findings can inform future community awareness raising strategies.”
Barnardo’s specialist child sexual exploitation services ran the innovative project and provided classroom based learning, outreach work in the community and sessions on reporting concerns to the police.
Attendees said they felt more empowered and would do things differently after the training:
One success following the training was how CCTV operators worked with the police to locate a potential perpetrator. A missing young female was found in the back of the vehicle, and the driver was arrested for grooming, child abduction and theft.
Barnardo’s was funded by the Department for Education to deliver the free tuition so night workers have the confidence to report signs of sexual exploitation and abuse.
Notes to Editors:
Breakdown of the night time economy sector and number who received training
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