Safeguarding children - information regarding Sexual and Criminal Exploitation

Information to help professionals working with, or caring for children/young people in an employed or voluntary role in safeguarding and promoting welfare.

This page regarding Child Sexual and Criminal Exploitation aims to update you on our increased understanding of Child Sexual Exploitation. The NSSP wants to ensure that we are able to safeguard children and young people at the earliest point so that appropriate services can be provided to ensure these vulnerable people remain safe.

Serious Case Reviews highlight that child sexual exploitation can be particularly hard for professionals to recognise and respond to. Confusion around young people’s rights and their capacity to consent to sexual activity means both young people and professionals often wrongly view exploitative relationships as consensual. This means that sexual exploitation often goes unidentified, and young people can be reluctant to engage with services.

Bradford LSCB Jack SCR
Main report
Sexual and Criminal Exploitation Strategy for Northumberland 2019-22

NSSP Safeguarding Children and Young People from Child Sexual Exploitation Guidance

Child Sexual Exploitation: Definition and Guide for Practitioners (DfE, February 2017)

Tackling Child Sexual Exploitation: A Resource Pack for Councils

NSSP Guidance: Children and Families who go missing

NSSP Vulnerability Factors for All professionals to Consider in Relation to the Risk of Sexual Exploitation

Working with Children and young people who experience running away and Child Sexual Exploitation

Online Sexual Harm Reduction Guide (NWG Network and Marie Collins Foundation)

County Lines: criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults (Home Office September 2018)

County Lines
County Lines is a term used by the police and other law enforcement agencies to describe an approach taken by some criminal groups within the UK to distribute drugs and conduct other criminal activities in other areas of the country.
  • The offenders often originate from large urban areas and use children and other vulnerable people to deliver drugs/ other illegal commodities to customers.
  • This often involves deception, intimidation, violence, debt bondage and/or grooming.
  • The proceeds of this criminality are returned to the large urban areas from which the criminality originates.
Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation Policing and Prevention Practice Guides
Further guidance 
“Sexual Exploitation of children and young people under 18 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”
Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation 2009

Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition, for example being persuaded to send sexual images. In all cases, those exploiting the child/person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common and the child or young person usually has limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability. 

For further guidance vulnerability factors and signs of CSE see below 

NSSP guidance on CSE vulnerability factors for all professionals

The Children's Society: Knowing the signs of CSE and What is child sexual exploitation, CSE?
Be safe:

As professionals, parents and carers, we all want the very best for  children and strive to protect them from people and places that put them in danger. Sadly, sexual exploitation affects thousands of children every year, and with technology now such a big part of our dayto-day lives, children are vulnerable in ways they have never been before. These guides, from Barnardo's, have been created to help protect children against these dangers – giving clear, practical and useable advice.

Children and young people




Seen and Heard (requires registration)

The Seen and Heard course is narrated by young people, sharing real experiences about what it's like to be an abused or exploited child with 'something to tell'.

Basic awareness training for parents and carers
It is often hard to tell the difference between difficult teenage behaviour and the signs of sexual exploitation. The more information you have about the dangers and risks that children may face the better equipped you’ll be to keep them safe.
  • Register for this free online course 'Keep Them Safe: Protecting Children from Child Sexual Exploitation' here.
Please note that the NSSP does not endorse these sites and takes no responsibility for the contents therein. These links are given for information only.

NSSP/NSCB Training

NSSP Multi-agency training programme

County Lines Presentation  Presentation for team meetings 


Child Sexual Exploitation
Patrick Boyle the Sexual Exploitation Lead and Senior Manager for Northumberland Children's Services has developed this brief video guide. 

Consent is as simple as a cup of tea
Understanding consent for sex is simple and this short video explains why.

Tricky Friends
This is a short animation originally developed by Norfolk Safeguarding Adults Board. The aim is to help people with learning disabilities, and also children and young adults, understand what good friendships are, when they might be harmful, and what they can do.
This can be used by carers, family, professionals and organisations, to raise awareness and help keep them safer while enjoying relationships..

See it, Tackle it stop it, 
Players from Newcastle United, Sunderland Football Club and Middlesbrough Football Club are taking part in the ‘SEE IT, TACKLE IT, STOP IT’ campaign alongside The Children’s Society, Northumbria Police and Newcastle Elite Academy.

Bedford University Short Films for Practice - CSE Research
These 12 films are aimed at anyone who wants to access learning from the latest research on CSE) in a short accessible form.

The films share the findings of a range of studies undertaken by researchers in ‘The International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking’ at the University of Bedfordshire, as well as drawing on wider CSE literature.

Most of the films are under two minutes long. They can be watched in the office, shared with colleagues or friends, or used in training contexts. Each film is accompanied by a short briefing document that outlines the evidence in more detail, with references and links to the original research, and questions for reflection.