There is no more crucial role for you as a taxi driver than to ensure your passengers’ safety, whether they’re young or old. But this is not just limited to driving carefully to prevent road accidents and checking all passengers have their seatbelts on. Or ensuring you’ve got the right, up-to-date insurance for a taxi in place. There’s so much more to it than that!
For all you know, one of the children you carry in your vehicle might be the victim of sexual abuse or exploitation. They might be being taken to a location to be abused further. You might be the last chance they have to escape to safety.
But would you know how to spot the signs? And would you know what to do if you did? Perhaps this is something you’ve never considered before, but it’s all part and parcel of being a responsible taxi driver today.
Read our guide to Barnardo’s Nightwatch service for taxi drivers and get informed on how you can play your part to stop child sexual abuse and exploitation.
The tragic fact is that sexual abuse and exploitation are part of life for many children in the UK today. And far from decreasing, this problem continues to grow.
In 2018-19 alone local authorities identified almost 19,000 suspected victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE), up from 3,300 just five years before. But this is only the tip of the iceberg, there are fears that many thousands of other young victims go unreported and unprotected every year.
Nightwatch is a free training and guidance programme aimed at those working in the night time economy.
It’s run by Barnardo’s, a children’s charity and the largest provider of CSE support services in the UK. The service is currently focused on London where it raises awareness of CSE, how to recognise it and how to protect children.
As well as taxi drivers, Nightwatch also trains people working across the night time economy, including staff in hotels, pubs, takeaways, transport and leisure centres. It also trains street pastors and the police.
Once trained, the idea is that you become a Nightwatch Advocate and share your knowledge of CSE with other taxi drivers and night time workers. What better way to protect children at night than with a network of eyes and ears to recognise and respond to signs of CSE?
Taxi drivers constantly hear things which give an insight into people’s everyday lives. Many times this is perfectly innocent, but being more informed about CSE will help you be more vigilant when something appears to be inappropriate.
It might feel hard to intervene or act but with training through Nightwatch, the aim is that drivers can feel more confident in their ability to report on concerns – potentially making a life-changing difference to a child’s life.
After all, we all know taxi insurance is essential so why not training on CSE?
Being prepared to spot signs of CSE is key and Barnardo’s says taxi drivers can do this by:
The charity says that taxi drivers should particularly look out for:
If you suspect you’ve spotted signs of CSE, the NSPCC recommends you do not attempt to tackle the situation then and there. Confronting a potential abuser may place the child at greater risk and give the abuser time to confuse or threaten them into silence. Instead, seek professional advice as soon as possible.
Make a note of any relevant information and call the police on 101 if you require a non-emergency response or advice. You can also report information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. However, if you believe the child is at immediate risk, then you should always call 999.
You can also report safeguarding concerns about individual children to your local authority’s safeguarding team. Never hesitate. The piece of information you provide could feed into a much bigger picture and could be the trigger that helps the child and brings the perpetrators to justice.
Useful information for you to note down and share with the police if you have any concerns are:
We understand that keeping customers safe in your vehicle is a top priority. The specialist team at Taxi Insurer understands the pressures you are sometimes under and is here to help.
We’ve spent decades working with our trusted panel of insurers to provide you with the ideal insured only policies or named driver policies.
We can provide you with a broad array of choices depending on whether you’re looking for individual cover or insurance for an entire taxi fleet.
Benefits of taxi insurance through us can include:
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