New hotline for reporting child sex abuse in Scotland

Generic image of a girl Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Callers will be kept completely anonymous

A new hotline has been launched to enable members of the public to share concerns on child sex abuse.

The Nightwatch Hotline is in effect from Tuesday in Scotland and is aimed at those who work late hours, such as taxi drivers and hospital staff.

Callers can anonymously pass on information such as potential victims, locations or vehicles related to child sexual exploitation (CSE).

It was launched by Barnardo's Scotland, Crimestoppers and Police Scotland.

The number of the hotline is 0800 389 0131.

It comes after Barnardo's staff heard that people working at night "would not" routinely contact police if they had concerns about possible exploitation of children.

The charity then approached Crimestoppers to develop a way for people to report incidents or concerns, particularly for those who come into contact with children.

What is CSE?

The NSPCC describes CSE, a type of sexual abuse, as a "hidden" crime as victims are often unaware they are being exploited.

It covers a range of abusive behaviours:

  • Children in exploitative situations and relationships receive something such as gifts, money or affection as a result of performing sexual activities or others performing sexual activities on them.
  • Children or young people may be tricked into believing they're in a loving, consensual relationship.
  • They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol.
  • They may be groomed and exploited online.
  • Some children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation.
  • Sexual exploitation can also happen to young people in gangs.

'Offer protection'

Daljeet Dagon, national programme manager for CSE 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 organizations.

"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 CSE and simply passing on any suspicions they have through our Nightwatch Hotline."

Crimestoppers passed on 118 pieces of information to Police Scotland relating to sexual offences against a child under the age of 16 between 1 April and 30 November this year.

Angela Parker, Scotland manager for Crimestoppers 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."

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