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Child Exploitation

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

“Child sexual exploitation 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.”

Child sexual exploitation: definition and guide for practitioners , DfE, February 2017

What is Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)?

"Child Criminal Exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or (c) through violence or the threat of violence. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child Criminal Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology"

HM Government Serious Violence Strategy, April 2018

Sexual exploitation can happen to boys and girls and can be linked to criminal exploitation.

It is important to recognise that ALL children may be at risk of child sexual exploitation. This includes children in strong and loving family units. There are however some children who have greater vulnerability and these include:

Children who might be vulnerable to exploitation:

  • Children who are looked after, especially those living in residential care
  • Children who have a history of physical, sexual, emotional abuse and/or neglect
  • Children who have a disability, mental health problem or sensory impairment
  • Children who are young carers
  • Children who use drugs and alcohol
  • Children who go missing from home or care
  • Children involved in crime
  • Children who live in households where there is domestic abuse

What is County Lines?

“County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons.”

“Child criminal exploitation is common in county lines and occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18. The victim may have been criminally exploited even if the activity appears consensual. Child criminal exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”

Criminal exploitation of children is broader than just county lines, and includes for instance children forced to work on cannabis farms or to commit theft.

What is trafficking?

The United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime (the ‘Palermo Protocol’) describes trafficking as:

the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs"
"Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;"

The Palermo Protocol (2006) establishes children as a special case. Any child transported for exploitative reasons is considered to be a trafficking victim, whether or not they have been forced or deceived. This is partly because it is not considered possible for children to give informed consent. Even when a child understands what has happened, they may still appear to submit willingly to what they believe to be the will of their parents or accompanying adults. It is important that these children are protected too.

What to look out for: Signs and Symptoms

There are a number of indicators which can alert you to the possibility that your child is being abused through or at risk of exploitation:

  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly coming home late
  • Coming home with expensive clothes or clothes that are inappropriate, mobile phones (or multiple mobile phones) or other gifts and possessions
  • Considerable change in performance at school or missing school
  • Mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Having older boyfriends/girlfriends
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Inappropriate sexualised behaviour

In addition, where a child is at risk of criminal exploitation/county lines, you might see the following:

  • Increased social media and phone/text use, almost always secretly.
  • Older males in particular seen to be hanging around and driving.
  • Having injuries that are unexplained and unwilling to be looked at.
  • Increase in aggression, violence and fighting.
  • Carrying weapons – knives, baseball bats, hammers, acid.
  • Travel receipts that are unexplained.
  • Significant missing from education episodes and disengaging from previous positive peer groups.
  • Significant changes in behaviour that affect emotional wellbeing.

CERAF
(Child Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework)

CERAF should be completed as soon as potential concerns regarding any form of child exploitation are identified. Exploitation may include: Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE), Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), County Lines (CL), Modern Day Slavery (MDS) or child trafficking concerns. It will guide you as to the level of risk, and the level and type of intervention which should follow.
Guidance on the new CERAF can be found here .

The CERAF replaces the previously used SERAF risk assessment tool, with no changes to the pronounciation. 
 

METRAC
(Missing, Exploited & Trafficked Risk Assessment Conference)

METRAC is a multi-agency operational group that is chaired by Hampshire Constabulary. It meets monthly to look at completed CERAFs and agree what action can be taken to protect the welfare of these highly vulnerable children. The aim is to manage and increase the safety of high risk victims of CSE or CCE and reduce risks and prevent further harm so that children are safeguarde

Police Actions when CSE is identified

The IOWSCP produced a flowchart showing the actions the Police take when a child has been identified as either unaccompanied from abroad, missing or there is evidence of exploitation.

HIPS Child Exploitation Group

A strategic child exploitation group has been established across the HIPS (Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Portsmouth and Southampton) area to provide leadership and direction, ensuring a coordinated partnership response to child exploitation. This group will ensure that the HIPS meet legislative requirements, government guidance, and implement recognised best practice to protect children from all forms of exploitation including CSE, CCE and modern slavery.
HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter - Spring 2020
HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter - Summer 2020
HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter - Autumn 2020
HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter - Spring 2021
HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter - Summer 2021
HIPS Child Exploitation Newsletter - Autumn 2021

Further information

Worried About A Child?

Professionals

In an emergency please call the Police on 999

To report child welfare or safeguarding concerns please complete the Inter-Agency Referral Form (IARF).. This is the most effective way of referring.

The Isle of Wight Thresholds Chart can help you identify the risks and types of services a family may need.
For urgent child protection enquiries, professionals can call 0300 300 0901 or 0300 555 1373 our of hours.
Please find here some FAQs about the Children's Reception Team (CRT) and Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH).
To share non-urgent information with the Police, please complete a CPI form (Community Partnership Information form).