HUNDREDS of workers in the hotel and taxi trade have been trained in spotting signs of child sexual exploitation in the fight against abuse.
Around 250 taxi drivers, hoteliers and bar staff went to sessions held yesterday and Monday at the Guildhall in Portsmouth.
Police are urging licensed workers to ‘see something, say something’ as part of Operation Makesafe, a major campaign against abuse.
Shocked participants at the training yesterday heard a reconstruction of a single call to the police 101 number – which led to a man being recalled to prison.
The woman had seen him in a hotel bar at 1am with a woman and a schoolgirl.
Inspector Chris White said: ‘It’s that classic golden nugget of information. Members of the public seeing something, not happy about it and doing something about it.’
The incident happened around Christmas last year.
‘As a result of the concerns that police and probation had he was recalled to prison, where he is still.’
Police are hoping the training will lead to more reports and in turn identify perpetrators and protect children.
If successful in the city, the project will be rolled out further across Hampshire.
Lucy Rylatt, business manager at Portsmouth Safeguarding Children Board, said: ‘We’re trying to say if you see something a bit unusual, a child seems uncomfortable or you see an adult with lots of different young people all the time, or under the influence of drugs, just be a bit more curious.
‘It’s not about accusing someone but thinking – does this feel right?’
Signs people should watch out for include:
n Behaviour of adults and children travelling together.
n Young people being taken to hotels at odd times.
n Adults putting drunk or drugged children in taxis.
Natasha Green, shift runner at the One Eyed Dog in Elm Grove, Southsea, attended yesterday.
She said although the bar is over-18s, the training has helped her think of how to spot signs of potential abuse.
‘It’s really interesting to know the signs to look out for, not only that but having the confidence so if I do have that gut feeling I know what I can do,’ she said.