Child Sexual Exploitation

Contextual Safeguarding
Read on for more information around Contextual Safeguarding and the Vulnerability issues that encompass our work with vulnerable children and adolescents- Harmful Sexual Behaviour, Trafficking, Modern Slavery, Serious Youth Violence, Child Sexual Exploitation. 

Kingston and  Richmond SCP are committed to implementing a Contextual Safeguarding Framework that will allow for a Child Protection system that recognises the weight of peer influence on the decisions that young people make; extends the notion of ‘capacity to safeguard’ to sectors that operate beyond families and provides a framework in which referrals can be made for contextual interventions that complement work with individuals and families.

There is a growing body of research (see Firmin 2013; Firmin et al 2016; Firmin 2017) which highlights the significance of contextual safeguarding, which promotes the idea that young people’s behaviours, levels of vulnerability and levels of resilience are all informed by the social/public, as well as private, contexts in which young people spend their time. 

Information about  local Contextual Safeguarding and Exploitation Conferences is here.

According to UK National Working Group for Sexually Exploited
Children and Young People (NWG)
, Sexual Exploitation of children under the age of 18, both girls and boys, involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive 'something' (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) can occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person's limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

CSE is often hidden and may go unnoticed; however it is a major child protection issue in the UK. The child may trust their abuser and often are unaware that what is actually happening is abuse. The child may feel that they are dependent on their abuser however are fearful to tell anyone about what is happening.

Department for Education
Click here for a definition and guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation.

Click here for Annexes to ‘Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children for child sexual exploitation'.

Click on the link for information on Child Exploitation and Online Protection Command (CEOP)

Here are just some of the signs and indicators which demonstrate that a child may be sexually exploited:

Physical Signs

  • unexplained injuries
  • multiple pregnancies
  • sexually transmitted diseases
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • a rapid change in appearance

Behavioural Signs

  • sexualised behaviour
  • self-harm
  • change in eating habits
  • mental health problems
  • disruptive behaviour

Risk factors

  • low self-esteem
  • absence from home or school
  • issues around body image
  • alcohol and drug abuse
  • family bereavement
  • parents with alcohol problems
  • dysfunctional family home
  • being in care
  • having a learning disability

CSE resources
These resources have been developed by the ‘CSE Principles Comic Project (2017) by Una Comics and the University of Bedfordshire’. Copyright of the images belongs to Una Comics. 

Researchers from the ‘International Centre: researching child sexual exploitation, violence and trafficking’ conducted focus groups with young people in different Hub and Spoke projects, asking them about their experiences of CSE services.  From this they have developed 10 principles are based on a review of the experiences of young people affected by CSE, and each is accompanied by explanatory text and two quotes from young people that illustrate different elements of the principle. 

To see the reources click here

Click on the links below for more information on CSE
Safeguarding children and young people from sexual
exploitation supplementary guidance to Working Together to
Safeguard Children


NHS – How to spot child sexual exploitation

Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation (PACE UK) - provides a free online course 

Barnardos – Child Sexual Exploitation

Harmful Sexual Behaviour 
The NSPCC has published helpful learning about working with children and young people, who exhibit sexualised behaviour, that may be harmful. It can be accessed via this link.

Serious Youth Violence is defined as any offence of Most Serious Violence and Assault with Injury or Weapon Enabled Crime, where the victim is aged 1-19. The perpetrator can be any age. 

gang member is someone who has self-identified as being a member of a gang or group; eg through verbal statements, tattoos, correspondence, graffiti, and this is corroborated by other agencies.

gang associate is someone who offends with gang members (as above) or who is associated with gang members; or who has displayed, through conduct, or behaviour, a specific desire or intent to become a gang member.

The Government guidance “Safeguarding children and young people who may be affected by gang activity”6 (published in 2010) distinguishes between:

 ‘Peer Group’ – a relatively small and transient social grouping which may or may not describe themselves as a gang depending on the context;

 ‘Street Gang’ – “groups of young people who see themselves (and are seen by others) as a discernible group for whom crime and violence is integral to the group's identity”;

 ‘Organised Criminal Gangs’ – “A group of individuals for whom involvement in crime is for personal gain (financial or otherwise). For most crime is their 'occupation'”.

Gangs exploit children experiencing three particular risk factors:

  • Risks around their home environment;
  • Issues such as mental health;
  • Children at risk because of a failure of institutions to respond adequately, for example children excluded from school or deprived of much-needed mental health support.

Child Trafficking
Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. Modern Slavery continues today and harms people in every country in the world. Women forced into prostitution. People forced to work in agriculture, domestic work and factories. Children in sweatshops producing goods sold globally. Entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts. Girls forced to marry older men. 
There are estimated 40.3 million people in modern slavery around the world, including: • 10 million children • 24.9 million people in forced labour • 15.4 million people in forced marriage • 4.8 million people in forced sexual exploitation 
Someone is in slavery if they are: • forced to work – through coercion, or mental or physical threat; • owned or controlled by an ’employer’, through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse; • dehumanized, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’; • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement. Going back to November’s newsletter article on county lines we talked about what county lines are and this month we’re going to talk about what you can do to help safeguard any victims affected by county lines. So…? What can you do?

One of the most important things in aiding young people is early identification. Some of the early factors identifying a victim – especially in young people are; • Going missing and travelling to seaside or market towns • Money, clothes or accessories which they are unable to account for • An increase in possession of weapons and substances with intent to supply offences outside your area 
Find out more here:

Children and adults can be exploited and trafficked through modern slavery - brought into our area from abroad or from other parts of the UK. 

The  Local Government Association (LGA) and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner (IASC) have now published their Strategic Modern Slavery Guide for councils here: 

County Lines

County Lines is closely connected to 

Modern Day Slavery and Trafficking.

 In each case, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) must be used, however small the distance the child or young person has bene taken or sent.  Gang members are moving into drugs markets outside London to counties where they are unknown to Police and there is less competition from rival gangs. Non-Metropolitan police forces can have less experience with dealing with these issues. Children may go missing, be in receipt of large amounts of money, various phones and or may be picked up by taxi by day or night. Children can be groomed to use the homes of vulnerable adults, known as “Cuckooing”, who themselves are groomed. There is evidence that young people involved in drug dealing can be targeted by older or more powerful members of the same gang, who steal drugs  / money  to make them owe a debt which must be repaid. This can lead to further coercion and exploitation, including violence.

National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care. A range of agencies may be involved in a trafficking case such as the police, the UK Border Agency (UKBA), local authorities and non-governmental organisations such as charities.  Referrals can be made here:


 The main county line gangs operate from London and Liverpool, but other groups work out of Birmingham, and Manchester. The influence of county lines is nationwide. Metropolitan Police have found gang members from Islington in 14 different police areas, for example. 

Find out more here:

You can access some films here:

Provides elearning and other useful resources in relation to support of child victims of trafficking.

The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse
The Centre of Expertise on Child Sexual Abuse has published key briefings around CSE for Police, Health practitioners, Education, Social Workers, and Commissioners here.

Local Case Study
Please click here to find our local learning around HSB, a case study from Police.

Harmful Sexual Behaviour and the Everyone's Invited website
Case Studies and Guidance for Schools

Hackett Continuum HSB assessment

Responding to children who display sexualised behaviour