Child sexual exploitation

Last updated: 2018-03-07 10:38:37
[+] Expand all

1. Summary

Last updated: 07/03/18

2. Introduction

“Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.” (Department for Education 2017:5)

The process often involves a stage of ‘grooming’, in which the child might receive something (such as a mobile phone, clothes, drugs or alcohol, attention or affection) prior to, or as a result of, performing sexual activities, or having sexual activities performed on them. Although every case is different, there are different models of grooming.

Child sexual exploitation may occur through the use of technology without the child’s consent or immediate recognition; for example through being persuaded to post sexual images over the internet or via mobile phone.

Child sexual exploitation is often conducted with actual violence or the threat of violence. This may be threats towards the child, her or his family and may prevent the child from disclosing the abuse, or exiting the cycle of exploitation. Indeed, the child may be so confused by the process, that they do not perceive any abuse at all.

The impact of child sexual exploitation on the young people affected is huge. For example exploited young people are at increased risk of rape, sexual assault, physical violence, sexually transmitted infections, trafficking and pressure to use drugs and alcohol.

CSE can impact on every aspect of a child/young person’s life, such as:

  • Physical and mental health
  • Education and training
  • Family relationships
  • Friends and social relationships
  • How they view others
  • Their relationships with their own children in the future

(Safe & Sound, 2017)

There is a lot of uncertainty around any estimate of the cost of child sexual abuse because unfortunately, so much abuse is only ever known by the victim and the perpetrator and many victims never disclose. However, given the academic evidence about the impacts of child sexual abuse and this research, we believe the costs are large – our low estimate of the annual cost of child sexual abuse is £1.6bn in 2012 (NSPCC “Estimating the costs of child sexual abuse in the UK”, 2014).

Other JSNA topics this topic closely linked to:



Looked after children

Children in need

Learning disabilities



Last updated: 07/03/18

3. Data and Intelligence


An NSPCC survey found that nearly 1-in-20 young people aged 11 to 17 (4.8%) have experienced contact sexual abuse. This rate is higher for girls (7%) than boys (2.6%).

Applied locally, using the 2015 mid-year population estimates:


Girls: 518

Boys: 211

Total: 729

Cleveland Police

The chart above shows that CSE incidents have been considerably increasing each year since 2014-15.

The chart above shows that online-related CSE incidents have been considerably increasing each year since 2014-15.

The chart above shows that CSE crimes reported have been increasing each year since 2014-15.

The chart above shows that online-related CSE crimes reported have been considerably increasing each year since 2014-15.

The chart above shows that in 2104-17, only 1-in-10 CSE crimes reported are male victims.

The chart above shows that in 2014-17, only approximately 1-in-5 CSE crimes reported are victims under 12 years old.

*U-7 shading area altered for disclosure purposes

The chart above shows that in 2014-17, approximately three quarters of victims of CSE crimes reported were white, however, the majority of the other victims did not have their ethnicity recorded.

The chart above shows that the majority of CSE incidents were victims who reside in the most deprived areas (Q1 = the 20% most deprived areas in England).  There were however, a number of CSE incidents were the victims reside in the most affluent areas.

The chart above shows that the majority of CSE crimes were victims who reside in the most deprived areas (Q1 = the 20% most deprived areas in England).  There were however, a number of CSE crimes were the victims reside in the most affluent areas.

Last updated: 07/03/18

4. Which population groups are at risk and why?

Last updated: 07/03/18

5. Consultation and engagement

Last updated: 07/03/18

6. Strategic issues

Last updated: 07/03/18

7. Evidence base

Last updated: 07/03/18

8. What needs to be done and why?

ACE Service

The ACE service is an SBC commissioned service, provided by Barnados. The service provides a provide a comprehensive support service to young people under the ages of 18 (or in the case of Looked After Children (LAC) up to the age of 25), who may be at risk of or who are being sexually exploited or need support having run away from home or care.

Blossom project

The Blossom project is provided by A Way Out and funded through Big Lottery.

The project provides targeted support for young women (aged 16-24 years) in Stockton-on-Tees who are at a significant risk of poor outcomes due to a range of vulnerabilities and complex needs. A key aspiration of the project is to prevent the exploitation of vulnerability and routes into survival sex work.

The Blossom service offers to empower and advocate for young women and support them to:

  • Build emotional resilience and social capital;
  • Make positive life choices; and
  • Realise their aspirations/fulfil their potential.

They look to do this via a range of different activities:

  • Outreach;
  • Drop-ins;
  • Befriending/mentoring;
  • One to one support;
  • Therapeutic group work;
  • Personal counselling;
  • Family mediation;
  • Employability and work-related support;
  • Mental health and work-related support through rolling programmes;
  • Health and fitness programmes; and
  • Healthy lifestyle and life skills programmes.


Switch is a Stockton Borough Council (SBC) Public Health funded project based within Youth Direction. The Switch project provides one to one preventative grooming and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) support to young people where there are early signs of concern or vulnerability. The support is available if a young person has/is:

  • Access to the internet with little or no knowledge of keeping safe, or concerns about the material being accessed e.g. dating sites;
  • Been involved in inappropriate use of mobile phone e.g. sharing inappropriate images amongst friends;
  • Involved with other vulnerable peers who have been exposed to CSE;
  • Had a missing from home episode with concerns about the nature of peer or adult relationships;
  • Using social media late at night or early hours of the morning;
  • Involved in an inappropriate/controlling relationship; or
  • Does not have the ability to recognise exploitative behaviour.

The service offers individual support to young people and parents, support on how to access universal youth provision and preventative workshops within education and community settings.

Vulnerable, Exploited, Missing, Trafficked (VEMT) team

A VEMT Coordinator raises the awareness of VEMT issues, delivers relevant training and acts as a central point for intelligence collation & sharing. There is a close focus on the protection of children and young people at risk of CSE.

Data relating to VEMT children is regularly analysed and detailed reports are produced for the Stockton-on-Tees Local Safeguarding Children Board (SLSCB) so they can make recommendations to improve practice and identify “hotspots” of CSE activity.   

Barnardo’s safeguarding/CSE awareness training

It has been recognised that licensed drivers (e.g. taxi drivers), given their unique position within the community, have an important role to play in the safeguarding of vulnerable children and adults, including those with disabilities.  In recognition of this unique position, all existing drivers and private hire operators (or a representative of the licensed company) are require to complete safeguarding awareness training arranged by SBC. All new applicants are required to successfully complete the training before the issue of their first licence. To date, over 97% of licensed drivers have undertaken the course.

Education based provision     

CSE is included in the plans for the revised risk taking behaviour toolkit for secondary schools.

Healthy relationships will be included in the primary school version of the risk taking behaviour toolkit, which will include preventative CSE measures.

Last updated: 07/03/18

9. What needs are unmet?

Last updated: 07/03/18

10. What needs to be done and why?

Last updated: 07/03/18

11. What additional needs assessment is required?

No additional needs assessments are required at present.

Last updated: 07/03/18

12. References


Last updated: 07/03/18

13. Key contact

Name: Mel Douglas

Job title: Service Manager

Organisation: Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Phone number: 01642 528720

Contributor/s: James O’Donnell (SBC)


Last updated: 07/03/18