Welcome to Bedford Borough Council

Our Services A - Z :

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation


What is Child Sexual Exploitation

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) can affect any child and young person, regardless of their background, culture, gender, age or ethnicity.

It is a type of abuse in which children are sexually exploited for money, power or status.

It sees children and young people under 18 involved in exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where the young person receives something (e.g. accommodation, drugs, alcohol, affection, gifts) as a result of them performing, and/or another performing on them, sexual activities.


It can also occur through the use of technology without the child's immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post images on the internet/ mobile phones.



The offenders, who sometimes work in groups, are organised and deliberate in their actions and use sophisticated tactics.

Grooming can take place in many forms both online using social media, via mobile phones, or in person.

Often the grooming starts with friendship or a relationship. The victim may be misguided in to thinking the adult is their boyfriend / girlfriend. The offender may supply gifts such clothes, money, mobiles phones or other presents. They may also supply drugs and alcohol. Sometimes the victims are given lifts and transported around.

Over time, the offender will usually encourage the child to distance themselves from their usual family and friends.

Soon in to the friendship / relationship, sexual assault or rape may occur. The victim may feel they have to have sex because they are in a relationship or because they feel threatened or frightened. Sex may involve one person or they may be forced to have sex with several adults or be passed around the group.

The child may not always realise they are being groomed and may even believe they are a willing participant, when they are anything but.



Older Boyfriend/Girlfriend This is where a single offender befriends a young person and makes them think they are in a caring relationship in order to sexually exploit them.

Peer on Peer This can be where young people are tricked, manipulated or forced into sexual activity by people of a similar age.

Familial Where a young person is exploited by a member of their own family.

Online Grooming and sexual exploitation take place completely online with the young person and the offender never meeting.

Abuse of authority Somebody in a position of authority over the young person uses that position in order to sexually exploit them.

Groups Where a group of people working together to groom and sexually exploit young people. They may be forced to have sex with multiple adults.

Gangs - Sexual exploitation can also be used as a form of punishment or as an initiation into a street gang.


You are not alone – many parents have gone through what you are going through and understand your pain.



You can play your part in helping to tackle CSE by learning how to spot the signs. The signs listed below aren't exhaustive. What's important is that if you do notice something unusual in a young person, you speak out. Take a moment to learn the signs and find out how you can report a concern - visit the Bedfordshire Against CSE website for more information on both on and offline CSE as well as for advice on where to go if you have a concern about CSE.



Child sexual exploitation is when people use the power they have over young people to sexually abuse them. In this video series experts explain who is most vulnerable, typical behaviour patterns of the abusers and how to spot the signs. You’ll also get advice on what you can do if someone you know is at risk or has been a victim of CSE.

Watch the video series about CSE


CHELSEA’S CHOICEa powerful production highlighting the issue of child sexual exploitation

We have commissioned 2 weeks this year of 'Chelsea's Choice' to deliver performances to Upper Schools across Bedford Borough. 'Chelsea's Choice' informs young people about grooming and helps individuals to spot the signs of sexual exploitation.

'Chelsea’s Choice’ is a hard-hitting, 35 minute long play which is followed by a 25 minute interactive session which provides an opportunity to explore the issues raised in the safeguarding drama.

Raising young peoples’ awareness of child sexual exploitation is key in helping to prevent them from becoming victims of this crime.

Along with the performances being shown at all the upper schools in Bedford Borough we are also holding 2 performances purely for parents and carers of children and young people living in the Borough. The first performance will be on the 15th November and the second performance on the 24th November. For more details on how to book a place - click on the flyer for the date required - 15th November or 24th November.

Alternatively if you have any questions or would like more information on 'Chelsea’s Choice' please contact us at www.bedford.gov.uk/lscb or telephone 01234 276512



Parents across Bedfordshire are being urged to wise up about online safety, as part of a new campaign which aims to protect children from online grooming.

The campaign, which launches today (Tuesday 31 May), will offer parents information on how to keep their child safe on the web, as well as advising them of the signs of online sexual exploitation and where they can turn to with concerns.

Parents are being encouraged to have a conversation with their children about the internet, to make sure that they’re aware of the dangers of sharing information with strangers and taking compromising images.

Detective Superintendent Nick Bellingham, of the Bedfordshire Police Public Protection Unit, said: “It’s important to recognise that child sexual exploitation (CSE) can happen online as well as in person, and that’s why we felt it was important to launch this campaign to help reduce the risk of that happening where possible.

“There are some basic steps that parents can take help keep their children safe online. Take some time to look at their security settings and make sure they’re set to friends only, and check that they are only speaking to people online that you both know and trust in real life. Most importantly of all, speak to your children openly and honestly about using the internet safely.”

Other advice includes explaining to your child that they should keep their personal information private and should only post content and photos that they wouldn’t mind sharing with their family.

The campaign will also highlight signs to look out for that a young person is being sexually exploited, such as a sudden or unexpected change in behaviour, or receiving unexplained gifts or money.

Cllr Shan Hunt, Portfolio Holder for Children’s Social Care at Bedford Borough Council said: “There is no greater responsibility than keeping young people safe and children accessing the internet can be effectively inviting a stranger into their homes, which is of course terrifying. By keeping parents informed on the topic of online grooming and asking them to be vigilant, we stand united in ensuring young people avoid becoming victims of this abhorrent crime.”

During the campaign, the organisations involved will be sharing advice on social media, as well as carrying out online safety sessions for parents across the county, and distributing leaflets and posters in key areas.

Parents and young people alike are also encouraged to visit the Bedfordshire Against CSE website for more information on both on and offline CSE as well as for advice on where to go if you have a concern about CSE.

You can also visit the Child Exploitation and Online Protection’s Think U Know website which offers tips and resources for people of all ages on how to stay safe in a digital world.


Bedfordshire Against CSE

Give children a voice posters - girl poster - boy poster

CSE Say No Texting leaflet - click for the leaflet

Teach your child 5 smart rules to stay safe online - click on this link



PACE logo

PACE - Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation

Pace is an organisation that is there to support you as a parent/carer and enable you get the service you are entitled to keep your child safe. Please click on this link to go to their website - www.paceuk.info/

Pace offer a FREE online course that will help you to:

  • Understand child sexual exploitation.
  • Find out how to spot the signs.
  • Know who to report any concerns to.


Please click here to register

New booklet for parents written in partnership with parents who have experienced the hardship of CSE, Keeping it Together: a parent's guide to coping with child sexual exploitation provides information and guidance on some of the practical and emotional issues faced when caring for a sexually exploited child on a day-to-day basis. Click here for the booklet.


Local contacts

Bedfordshire Police logo

If you or one of your friends are a victim of or could be being sexually exploited contact Bedfordshire Police who have a dedicated child sexual exploitation team. So if you want to talk to a Police officer then please contact them either by email CSE.Unit@Bedfordshire.pnn.Police.uk or telephone 01234846914 or Bedfordshire Police on 101 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Brook logo

Brook provides free and confidential sexual health services and advice for young people under 25 across Bedfordshire.

Broadway House, 4-6 the Broadway, Bedford, MK40 2TE

Telephone: 01234 761090

Website: http://www.brook.org.uk/


Safe sex

Safe Sex in Beds

For a Safe, Inclusive and Broad range of sexual health in Bedfordshire

Website: http://www.safesexinbeds.co.uk/


Bedford Borough Council – Children’s Social Care

If you are worried about yourself or a friend you can call the Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 01234 718700 (office hours) or ring 0300 300 8123 (out of hours).

In an emergency, phone the police 999.


‘We are a Partnership made up of over 20 member organisations working to support and provide services to victims in Bedfordshire’.  Please visit our website for further detail  http://www.bedfordshirevictimspartnership.org.uk/


The Hope Programme logo

A confidential  & free telephone helpline for women and men over the age of 10 years who have been raped and / or sexually abused at any time in their lives. They offer telephone support for survivors, information on other services and 1-1 counselling with qualified, specially trained counsellors in safe, accessible places across Bedfordshire. 

Helpline 10am – 6pm Monday to Saturday 0300 365 1045


•             Confidential

•             Caring

•             Non-judgemental

•             Self-referral

•             No need to be referred by your GP or anyone else

•             Support for non offending partners, family members

Email:    thehopeprogramme@gmail.com

Website:              http://www.hopeprogramme.com/

Crime stoppers logo  


Disrespect NoBody campaign

The second phase of the Home Office Disrespect Nobody campaign will run from 2 February until the end of March 2017.

The aim of the Disrespect NoBody campaign is to prevent young people, both boys and girls aged 12 to 18 years old from becoming perpetrators and victims of abusive relationships.

For 2017 the focus of the campaign will be consent and sexting, which are both issues where many young people need more education and information. The campaign advertising directs young people to the website www.disrespectnobody.co.uk where they can get further information and signposts them to organisations who can provide support.

Please click on the link below to download the partner brief and campaign materials.

Click here to go to their website