Scheme to protect children from sexual exploitation

Barnardo's new project to keep children safe at night
Barnardo's new project to keep children safe at night

A children’s charity has been given more than £700,000 to protect young people from sexual exploitation at night.

Barnardo’s said more people who work at night need to look out for signs that children are at risk of grooming.

It has launched a 12 month pilot scheme which will teach hospital staff, security guards and others how they can help young people in danger.

The project, Plain Sight, will run classroom-based learning, outreach work in the community and sessions on reporting concerns to the police.

The scheme will run across Wakefield, Kirklees and Bradford.

The charity, which was given £736,154 from the Department of Education for the project, wants to create a network of “eyes and ears” in the three areas to help keep vulnerable children safe.

Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “Children can be particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation at night.

“All night-time workers need to be aware of the risks children face when dark falls.

“This funding will enable accident and emergency staff, door supervisors and the wider community know how to spot the danger signs, keep alert and understand how to get help for children at risk or suffering abuse.”

Last month West Yorkshire Police said tackling the sexual exploitation of children was their number one priority.

Officers pledged their support to mark the country’s first Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day.

Police joined local councils and visited schools and businesses to increase awareness of abuse offences as part of the campaign.

West Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Mark Burns-Williamson said £3.5m had been made available to the police to help deal with online crimes, human trafficking and abuse.