Taxi drivers and hoteliers are being urged to be the eyes and ears of the community in the fight against child sexual exploitation in Sheffield.

Sheffield Safeguarding Children’s Board, which includes Sheffield City Council, South Yorkshire Police, Sheffield Futures and other partners, have been leading the way nationally on training taxi drivers and hoteliers to be on the look-out for any suspicious behaviour.

Since 2008 the award winning Sheffield’s Safeguarding Children’s Board has been leading the way in terms of the work done with the local licensed trade training over 700 people to be aware of child sexual exploitation and what the tell-tale signs are that they need to look out for.

Now a partnership team is training hotel and taxi drivers urging them to say something if they see signs of a child being sexually exploited.

Hotel owners are being urged to notify the authorities if they see adults with children who do not appear to be family members. Similarly taxi drivers are being asked to keep an eye out if they see children in vulnerable situations.

Already this work in Sheffield has won national recognition as part of the National Working Group’s Say Something If you See Something campaign, a charity tasked with looking at child sexual exploitation nationally by the Government.

Now Sheffield’s work is being rolled out across the hospitality and leisure industry throughout South Yorkshire.

This comes as the Safeguarding Children’s Board, Sheffield City Council and partners commit to being part of a South Yorkshire wide joint crack down on child sexual exploitation, being launched in Rotherham today (Tuesday, 4 February).

The South Yorkshire Police led campaign is urging local business people, teachers, politicians and officers, among others, to unite in the fight against this crime.

Sue Fiennes, independent chair of Sheffield’s Safeguarding Children’s Board, said:

“Working together we aim to raise awareness of the serious issue of child sexual exploitation.

We all have a role in keeping children safe from harm and local communities are our eyes and ears in helping to spot and stop child sexual exploitation.

I’d encourage everyone in our communities to do what they can to try and spot the tell-tale signs of children who are being subject to this most vile of abuses and if concerned report it to “Say Something If You See Something”.

Councillor Jackie Drayton, Sheffield City Council’s Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families added:

“We are working in partnership with local agencies and business people who can be of great help in the fight against child sexual exploitation.

Greater recognition of this despicable form of abuse is fundamental to the fight against it which is why we are backing this awareness raising campaign launched today with colleagues from across South Yorkshire. We are committed to helping bring about an end to Child Sexual Exploitation and ensure all our children and young people live happy and healthy lives.”

Ian Slater, Chair of Hospitality Sheffield and General Manager of The Sheffield Metropolitan Hotel, said:

“There is no doubt this is a good idea and one which should be welcomed. We all have a responsibility to be vigilant but we are in a unique position in the hotel and taxi trade to be able to perhaps see or sense when something is not quite right.

Anything which can protect a child from harm can only be seen as a good thing.”

Hafeas Rehman, Chairman of the Sheffield Taxi Trade Association, also welcomed the move. He said:

“We haven’t had any problems out of the ordinary in the past here but you can tell when a group of people looks like a family or not.

If we have any doubts then we would report this to the police.”

People who think a child may be at risk of sexual exploitation are urged to call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.