Further guidance is available from the Avon and Somerset Police Lighthouse Victim and Witness Care website.
Child Sexual Exploitation
Everyone’s child is at risk of being sexually exploited – at any age, anytime, anywhere
Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.
Parents are often the first to notice something is wrong: trust your instincts and talk to your child if you’re worried:
- Have they a boyfriend, girlfriend or friends including adults who you don’t know?
- Have you noticed them getting presents, money, a mobile phone or jewellery?
- Have they been missing from home, staying out overnight or missing school?
- Do they get picked up or dropped off by unknown people?
- Are they secretive about where they go and who they see?
- Do they chat to people online who they’ve never met?
- Do you know what they’re accessing online?
- Are they drinking or taking drugs regularly?
Look, listen, ask, ask again, be curious….
Children or young people may be tricked into believing they’re in a normal or loving, consensual relationship. They might be invited to parties and given drugs and alcohol. They may also be groomed online.
Some children and young people are trafficked into or within the UK for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Sexual exploitation can also happen to young people in gangs.
If you suspect a child may be at risk, or have any information relating to child sexual exploitation, call North Somerset Council via Care Connect on 01275 888 808 Monday to Friday 8am - 6pm or the Police on 101. If a child is in immediate danger, dial 999 straight away.
Information and helpful links:
Avon and Somerset Police: Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
The Language we Use: a short video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0-R3FVCEN8I
An app for young people to use: https://www.barnardos.org.uk/what_we_do/our_work/sexual_exploitation/wud-u-app
Guidance for practioners working with young people and sexting: http://www.northsomersetsafeguarding.co.uk/userfiles/downloads/190/a3-sexting-guidance-for-practitioners.-31.10.17.pdf
Definitions of Child Criminal Exploitation
There is no legal definition of child criminal exploitation (CCE) through organised crime groups in England and Wales.
For Knowsley, the exploitation of children and young people under-18 is defined as that which:
‘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 completing a task on behalf of another individual or group of individuals; this is often of a criminal nature. Child criminal exploitation often occurs without the child’s immediate recognition, with the child believing that they are in control of the situation. 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.’
The criminal exploitation of children includes a combination of:
- Pull factors: children performing tasks for others resulting in them gaining accommodation, food, gifts, status or a sense of safety, money or drugs; often the hook is through the perpetrator supplying Class B drugs such as cannabis to the child or young person;
- Push factors: children escaping from situations where their needs are neglected and there is exposure to unsafe individuals, where there is high family conflict or the absence of a primary attachment figure;
- Control: Brain washing, violence and threats of violence by those exploiting the child particularly when the child or young person is identified by the police, they are expected to take full responsibility for the offences for which they are charged – i.e. possession and supply of illegal substances.
The majority of children or young people who enter into exploitation do so willingly however, their involvement is indicative of coercion or desperation rather than choice. Many young people do not recognize that they are being exploited or that they are at risk. The majority of children who are vulnerable to criminal exploitation are male however; the possibilities of female involvement should not be dismissed.
It is important to note that perpetrators of CCE may themselves be children who are criminally exploited and that the victims of CCE may also be at risk of becoming perpetrators.
County Lines and Cuckooing
County Lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas in the UK, using a dedicated mobile phone line or other form of 'deal line'.
Information on County Lines and Cuckooing is available from Avon and Somerset Police: What is a county line?