The rail network is like a magnet, attracting vulnerable children and young people and offering a place to go to instead of home or a place to hide, as well as access to trains that can be used to escape, run away or sometimes travel to meet new people.
But they can also attract those looking to exploit the vulnerable such as County Lines Gangs, drug runners, those involved in child sexual exploitation and trafficking. These predators are determined and skilled at seeking out, befriending and grooming young people who will then be subjected to exploitation and abuse.
That’s why we make sure to reach them first. Our work focuses on identifying those at risk, early intervention and preventing harm - transforming children’s lives, and optimising their life chances before it’s too late.
Our Safeguarding on Transport programme was born out of our relationship with the rail industry and a partnership with British Transport Police.
So they came to us.
The relationships we have across the sector mean we are in a unique position to mobilise the rail industry to commit to safeguarding these children. The Safeguarding on Transport programme is our way of doing that. We want to ensure that if a vulnerable child is finding sanctuary on the railway or is being exploited in some way as they use it, then a responsible adult somewhere will intervene and that will trigger some support that can help the child beyond responding to that one incident.
The Safeguarding on Transport programme is made up of three elements that work together to build a safety net for vulnerable people. Stepping in and giving the right support to a vulnerable young person can mark a turning point in their lives and the rail network provides a unique environment to identify and offer these life changing opportunities.
We work with BTP to spread awareness of how to identify and protect those that are in danger on the network, including children involved in county lines, or those with mental health issues.
Our programme is designed to make sure vulnerable children are more easily spotted and supported on the rail network that the right support is offered at the right time.
The Safeguarding on Rail Scheme was developed by the Department for Transport and British Transport Police in response to increasing numbers of vulnerable people on the rail network.
How Railway Children can help and other sources of free, confidential support.
Guidance for parents, carers and other adults, and how to spot the signs of children at risk.
More detail on our Safeguarding on Transport projects and our UK teams.