A new hotline for reporting the sexual exploitation of children has been launched by Barnardo’s Scotland and Crimestoppers.
The Nightwatch Hotline will enable people to anonymously pass on information to the charities and police if they suspect a child is being sexually abused – especially for people working in Scotland’s night-time economy.
Barnardo’s Scotland expressed concerns there was a gap between how night workers, such as taxi drivers, and the public would report the possible sexual exploitation and abuse of children.
The children’s charity approached Crimestoppers for help in developing a way for workers that often come into contact with children and young people to be able to report incidents or concerns.
Daljeet Dagon, national programme manager for child sexual exploitation for Barnardo’s Scotland, said: “Our Nightwatch Hotline will provide a safe and secure means for workers in the night-time economy and the public to share any worries or concerns they have.
“In addition, this line will also provide those working with children and the community a clear procedure for issues they feel they cannot raise directly within their own organisations.
“The night-time economy boasts a vast, vibrant and diverse workforce from bar staff and hoteliers to bus drivers and the emergency departments in hospitals.
“The staff who work within these different industries can, together, offer protection to the community as a whole by recognising the signs of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and simply passing on any suspicions they have through our Nightwatch Hotline.”
Between April 1 and November 30 this year, Crimestoppers passed on 118 pieces of information to Police Scotland relating to suspected sexual offences against a child under the age of 16.
Crimestoppers’ Scotland manager Angela Parker said: “Partnership working is crucial in helping to keep our streets safe and we are delighted to be working with Barnardo’s Scotland in launching this new service to tackle CSE.
“Having passed on over 100 pieces of information to Police Scotland since April, this service will be vital in ensuring the public know they have an outlet to speak up about information or suspicions they might have on a young person being sexually exploited.”
The Barnardo’s Scotland Nightwatch Hotline can be contacted on 0800 389 0131.
For more information go to www.barnardosnightwatch.com