Children in the UK are at risk of being trafficked into London for sexual exploitation during the Olympics, Barnardo’s is warning.
The children’s charity says anecdotal evidence from previous major events with a ‘party atmosphere’, such as the Olympics, leave children at greater risk of abuse, exploitation and trafficking within the UK.
Those in the hospitality industry are being urged to be extra vigilant during the Olympics and look out for suspected child exploitation.
“We know from the work we do on the ground with children that the risk of boys and girls being trafficked and sexually exploited during major events is a very real threat,” said Anne Marie Carrie, chief executive of Barnardo’s.
“With a huge influx of visitors to the capital everyone needs to play their part in spotting the signs that sexual exploitation is taking place.”
She called on local safeguarding children’s boards and police to gather data around suspected incidents, warning there is “currently no solid data on the prevalence of the problem”.
According to the charity one in six children it works with have been moved within the UK for sexual exploitation.
A leaflet about the problem has been made available by the charity for those working in the hospitality industry, including tax drivers, hotel workers and bar staff.
It includes guidance on the signs that a child is being sexually exploited, such as a child being taken to a hotel room by an adult who does not seem to be a family member, being out late with a group of adults and being bought alcohol by adults.
Workshops to combat Olympic child trafficking threat