Network of ‘eyes and ears’ to be set up to identify children at risk of sex abuse in Sheffield and Rotherham

A network of 'eyes and ears' is to be set up in Rotherham and Sheffield to identify children at risk of abuse
A network of 'eyes and ears' is to be set up in Rotherham and Sheffield to identify children at risk of abuse

A ‘network of eyes and ears’ will be created in Sheffield and Rotherham to try to identify vulnerable children at risk of sexual exploitation.

Children’s charity Barnardo’s has been awarded £736,154 to run a 12-month pilot project in a number of towns and cities to teach night-time workers how to protect children from sexual exploitation after dark.

The cash, from the Department of Education, will fund a project, called Plain Sight, which will reach out to hospital staff, security guards and others who work at night.

It will pay for two workers to be based in Rotherham and Sheffield over the next year.

They will run classroom-based learning sessions, outreach work in the community and give advice on reporting concerns to the police with the aim of creating a network of people on the ground to identify those at risk of abuse.

Barnardo’s will work in partnership with other initiatives tackling child sexual exploitation and share the pilot’s findings with local authorities.

Chief executive Javed Khan said: “Children can be particularly vulnerable to sexual exploitation at night.

“All night-time workers need to be aware of the risks children face when dark falls.

“This funding will enable accident and emergency staff, door supervisors and the wider community know how to spot the danger signs, keep alert and understand how to get help for children at risk or suffering abuse.

“Barnardo’s works with over 2,000 sexually exploited children across UK and sees first-hand the devastating impact this crime can have on victims.”

In addition to the work to be carried out in Rotherham and Sheffield the Barnardo’s project will also be rolled out to Bradford, Wakefield, Kirklees, Plymouth, Buckinghamshire, Manchester, Bristol, Sussex, London, Birmingham, Leeds and Middlesbrough.

An independent report commissioned by Rotherham Council last year to look at the issue of child sexual exploitation in the town revealed that 1,400 youngster had been attacked over a 16 year period by men of largely Pakistani-heritage.

Professor Alexis Jay, who produced the shock report, said authorities turned a blind eye because of sensitivities around the ethnicity of offenders.