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.


Child sexual abuse and exploitation in the UK

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.


What is Barnardo’s Nightwatch service?

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?

A high up view over London at dusk

How can taxi drivers help?

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:

  • Feeling confident to call the police or report their concerns when something doesn’t seem right.
  • Taking opportunities to receive training around CSE.
  • Thinking about what they might say or do if a young passenger was to ask them for help.

The charity says that taxi drivers should particularly look out for:

  • Children travelling late at night or during school hours.
  • Children who appear to be anxious, scared or in distress.
  • Children who appear angry, argumentative or overly defensive.
  • Adults who refuse to let children speak for themselves or who seem to be controlling the child’s behaviour and movements.
  • Children who are with an older person or group who they don’t seem to be related to.
  • Children being taken to adult-only venues like nightclubs or casinos.
  • Children who look like they’re drunk or drugged.


What to do if you spot signs of CSE

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:

  • Names
  • Locations and addresses
  • Descriptions of people
  • Car registration plates, make and models of vehicles
  • Description of suspicious activity

A time lapse of a London road with lights driving past and a red telephone box on the pavement

Protecting your cab and passengers with taxi insurance

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:

  • Protected No Claims Bonus (subject to acceptable criteria)
  • Cover for Minibus, MPVs and cars
  • Cover for private and public hire
  • 24-hour claims management service
  • Payment in instalments
  • Mirror NCB from other insurance policies
  • UK-based call centres

Arranging taxi insurance couldn’t be easier with Taxi Insurer.

Simply call our team today on 01926 454929 and get a no obligation quote, or complete the online form and we'll call you back at a time that's best for you.

Policy benefits, features and discounts offered may very between insurance schemes or cover selected and are subject to underwriting criteria. Information contained within this article is accurate at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.