PASSENGERS on public transport are being urged to keep an eye out for "something that looks out of place" that suggests a child is being sexually exploited — and then warn the authorities.

People on the region's buses, trains and trams are encouraged to contact police or transport staff as part of a Week of Action that comes under the wider It's Not Okay campaign.

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child abuse in which a boy or a girl under the age of 18 is persuaded, coerced or forced into sexual activity in exchange for gifts, money, drugs, alcohol, reward, affection or status.

The authorities say young people who have been groomed online often use public transport to travel and meet offenders and during this week police and partner agencies will be speaking to commuters about the signs to look out for.

Detective Superintendent Joanne Rawlinson, of Greater Manchester Police, said: "We all have a role to play in tackling child sexual exploitation and as part of our week of action, we’re appealing to the public to take a look around as they travel and report anything that doesn’t look right or causes concern.

"A child doesn’t choose to be exploited but passengers can make the choice to report it.

"If something looks out of place then please share concerns and contact the police or alert a member of transport staff."

For the Week of Action Greater Manchester Police has joined forces with the British Transport Police, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), Barnardo’s, the Children’s Society, Survivors Manchester, the NHS and local authorities.

There will be a series of events throughout the week held at transport hubs, schools and within the community to raise awareness of child sexual exploitation, such as the one at Bury Interchange on Monday.

Transport staff will receive training so that they can play their part in removing exploitation from the streets and enforcement work will take place with officers patrolling hotspot areas to deter and disrupt offenders.

Indications of exploitation may include a child or young person accompanying an older person who does not appear to be a relative or carer, or a young person who looks anxious, distressed or upset.

Signals that a child may be being taken advantage of are:

  • being taken by taxi to different locations and meeting with people older than them
  • being taken to hotels by people older than them
  • out shopping with someone older and being bought clothes or gifts
  • being bought food, cigarettes and alcoholic drinks
  • being escorted into over-18 venues, despite being underage
  • being taken out on trips, outings or holidays by someone older than them
  • staying in a hotel room visited by different adults
  • out late past 10pm
  • wearing a school uniform or of school age but are not in school during the day
  • drunk or intoxicated and in the company of someone older than t
  • travelling with or meeting a 'boyfriend' or 'girlfriend' much older than they are
  • taking part in sexual activity even though appear to be under 16

John Fryer, TfGM’s safer travel manager, said: "The vast majority of the 267 million journeys made on public transport every year are completely safe and uneventful, but if something doesn’t look or feel right, report it, because we all have the potential to intervene and prevent a childhood from being lost.

"The devastating reality is that child sexual exploitation exists in our communities, so raising awareness of this abhorrent crime is extremely important.

"The sheer number of people who pass through the region’s interchanges, rail stations or bus and tram stops on a daily basis means there is a great opportunity to speak to a great many people about this issue.

"We fully support this campaign and encourage passengers to look out for the Project Phoenix teams that will be carrying out all sorts of activity and engaging with the travelling public throughout the week."

It is not only passengers who are being asked to speak up but bus drivers, shop workers and taxi drivers whose eyes and ears could prevent serious harm coming to a child.

Nic Dunn, children’s services manager for Barnardo’s CSE Team in Manchester said: "Barnardo’s provides intensive support to young people assessed as being at high risk of CSE across Manchester and Salford, through the multi-agency Protect Team, working with children from as young as 11 up to 18.

"Our work to tackle CSE continues to evolve to deal with emerging issues, and we’ve developed our Real Love Rocks CSE awareness package to this week include scenarios surrounding public transport and how young people can spot the signs of exploitation in these situations.

"Earlier this year we also carried out CSE awareness training with workers in the city’s night time economy and what these workers should do if they spot any of these signs."

n For more information on CSE visit and to report CSE dial 101 or 999 in an emergency where a child is in immediate danger.