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Child Sexual Exploitation

CSE image

What is Child Sexual Exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of child abuse involving children and young people receiving something, such as accommodation, drugs, gifts or affection, as a result of them performing sexual activities, or having others perform sexual activities on them. It can occur without physical contact, when children are groomed to post sexual images of themselves on the internet.

CSE is a hidden issue taking place out of public view. Practitioners often do not identify it and young people themselves frequently do not recognise themselves as the abused. It can be difficult to get an accurate picture of the risk of sexual exploitation.

The link between children being sexually exploited and children going missing is very strong. Some 140,000 children go missing from home or care in the UK each year and it has been estimated that running away places around a quarter of these at risk of serious harm. Children and young people who run away may be ‘pushed away’ following abuse or other factors or ‘pulled away’ wanting to be near friends or because they are being exploited by adults.


Pan Bedfordshire CSE Strategy

CSE Risk assessment toolkit

CSE Awareness raising posters


Key facts about CSE

Sexual exploitation often starts around the age of 10 years old. Girls are usually targeted from age 10 and boys from age 8. It affects both girls and boys and can happen in all communities.

Any person can be targeted but there are some particularly vulnerable groups: Looked After Children, Children Leaving Care and Children with Disabilities.

Victims of CSE may also be trafficked (locally, nationally and internationally).

Over 70% of adults involved in prostitution were sexually exploited as children or teenagers.

Sexual violence or abuse against children represents a major public health and social welfare problem within UK society, affecting 16% of children under 16. That is approximately 2 million children.


What are the signs and symptoms of child sexual exploitation?

Grooming and sexual exploitation can be very difficult to identify. Warning signs can easily be mistaken for ‘normal’ teenage behaviour and/or development. However, parents, carers, school teachers and practitioners are advised to be alert to the following signs and symptoms:

  • inappropriate sexual or sexualised behaviour
  • repeat sexually transmitted infections; in girls repeat pregnancy, abortions, miscarriage
  • having unaffordable new things (clothes, mobile) or expensive habits (alcohol, drugs)
  • going to hotels or other unusual locations to meet friends
  • getting in/out of different cars driven by unknown adults
  • going missing from home or care
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriend
  • associating with other young people involved in sexual exploitation
  • truancy, exclusion, disengagement with school, opting out of education altogether
  • unexplained changes in behaviour or personality (chaotic, aggressive, sexual)
  • drug or alcohol misuse
  • getting involved in crime
  • injuries from physical assault, physical restraint, sexual assault


Spotting the signs

HEE, in association with the Department of Health, and with the support and help of healthcare staff and professional membership organisations has produced a video that provides advice on identifying the signs of child sexual exploitation in vulnerable young people.

These and many more questions are answered in a new video produced by HEE in association with the Department of Health, and with the support and help of healthcare staff and professional membership organisations.

The video seeks to support healthcare and other community staff on identifying the signs of child sexual exploitation in vulnerable young people. To view the video click here


Child sexual exploitation: definition and guidance updated Feb 2017

The Department for Education (DfE) has published a definition of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and a guide for practitioners and managers. Advice for practitioners working with children includes: a definition of CSE; potential indicators of CSE; how children are sexually exploited; and how sexual exploitation affects children. Guidance for managers and leaders includes: prevention, educating practitioners, educating children and young people, and educating parents and carers.

The DfE has published annexes to the guidance. Annex A covers adolescent development and includes: transitions; relationships; key risks and responses. Annex B is a guide to disruption orders and legislation setting out examples of disruption measures, civil powers and criminal offences which may be used by practitioners.

The government response to a consultation on revising the definition of child sexual exploitation has also been published.

Source: DfE  Date: 16 February 2017

Further information: Child sexual exploitation: definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation (PDF)

Child sexual exploitation: annexes to definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation (PDF)

Definition of child sexual exploitation: government consultation response (PDF)


Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton CSEG (Child Sexual Exploitation Group)

New guidance for the Child Sexual Exploitation Group (CSEG) which replaces the previous Child Sexual Exploitation Panel (CSEP). The role of the multi-agency CSEG is to ensure a co-ordinated multi-agency approach to concerns about child sexual exploitation and to maintain an overview of emerging child sexual exploitation issues in Bedfordshire.

This guidance will take practitioners through the process if they have a concern about a child or young person being a victim of CSE or if they have any information about a person being a perpetrator of CSE or concerns about locations being used for CSE.

This guidance found be found by clicking on this link here

In due course it will be uploaded on to the Pan Bedfordshire Interagency Child Protection Procedures http://bedfordscb.proceduresonline.com/index.htm


If you have any queries regarding the CSEG please contact your local CSE SPOCs or the Pan-Bedfordshire CSE Co-Ordinator:

Bedford Borough: Lesley Lown (Lesley.Lown@bedford.gov.uk)

Central Bedfordshire: Claire Collins (claire.collins@centralbedfordshire.gov.uk)

Luton: Catherine Doyle (Catherine.doyle@luton.gov.uk)

Pan-Beds CSE Co-Ordinator: Lisa Robinson Lisa.robinson@bedfordshire.pnn.police.uk


CSEP Risk Assessment Form      

Child Sexual Abuse Through Exploitation local leaflet


Intelligence reporting

To assist the Police in building a picture of what CSE looks like in Bedford Borough, where it is happening and who is involved then they require your intelligence. So for example if you have observed a car regularly being at a location where young people congregate share the details of the car and a description of the occupants. If a young person changes their appearance and appears to have money a new phone etc. and talks about going out to parties, then share this information with the Police using the Intelligence reporting form below.

CSE Intelligence reporting form

Guidance notes from the Police Intel Hub on the use of the form


Raising Awareness


Bedfordshire Police, the University of Bedfordshire, Bedford Borough, Luton Borough and Central Bedfordshire Councils, Crimestoppers, and the three local safeguarding children boards are joining forces to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE) with this new campaign.

The campaign aims to educate people on the signs that someone is being exploited, and increase the number of cases that are reported.

As part of the campaign, a new website has been launched which contains links and information about all of the agencies taking part, and explains how you can access help and support, as well as where to report CSE concerns.

Jenny Myers, Independent Chair of the Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board, said: “Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) can be tricky for people to recognise which is why a tip-off from someone who may have noted something which doesn’t seem quite right, can be so incredibly valuable. The joint website is a great resource for those seeking more information on CSE.”

If you are concerned about CSE, you can call police on 101 or visit https://bedfordshireagainstcse.org/ for further information.

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


NWG report

Response to CSE in Bedfordshire in the Three Boroughs. Click here to see the full report.


Local Raising awareness posters available be clicking here


CEOP logo

Exploited Trailer.  A promotional trailer for CEOP's new educational resource aimed at preventing CSE

Exploited Full Version. A CEOP educational resource.

Exposed. A short CEOP film about a girl who sends images of herself on her mobile phone

Barnardos logo

The Sexual exploitation of Children: can you recognise the signs?  A 20 minute film to raise awareness about grooming and sexual exploitation using the Eastenders story of Whitney.Innocence. Short film from Barnardo's about a girl that is groomed by an older man.

nwg logo

NWG posters - Girl poster - Boy poster

University of Bedfordshire Logo

Short Films for Practice - CSE Research

These 12 films are aimed at anyone who wants to access learning from the latest research on child sexual exploitation (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. Click on this link to go to the UOB website


Further Information

Barnardo's The Tangled Web, How Child Sexual Exploitation is Becoming More Complex 

Office of the Children's Commissioner Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind CEOP Thematic Analysis - Executive Summary

NPSCC Child Trafficking - Key statistics and Guidance

 Wud U?

Wud U? Is an educational tool for teachers and care professionals who interact with young people that might be at risk of sexual exploitation?

Wud 2 additional images

The app aims to educate young people about behaviour that could put them at risk of being sexual exploited, through illustrated, interactive stories.

Wud U? will enable you to present sensitive issues to your group of young people. You will be able to discuss the decisions that they would make if they were in the same situation as the characters within the stories. This app also offers advice about their decisions.

Through the Wud U? app you can:

Demonstrate how young people can make safe decisions.

Provide your group with more information about sexual exploitation, from a trusted source.

Help us raise awareness of sexual exploitation by sharing the Wud U? app.



New gold member to the National Working Group (NWG) nwg logo

We are pleased to inform you that we have now activated our Gold account with the National Working Group (http://www.nwgnetwork.org/) who are a Charitable organisation, who disseminate information to professionals working on the issue of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and trafficking within the UK.

This means as a BBSCB member you and your staff (through an application process) will have access to the many resources available.

So to access the resources please contact Cheryl Stevens, NWG Network Coordinator email: network@nwgnetwork.org and mention that you are working in Bedford.

Staff at all Local Authority Bedford Borough schools can be added to the account and have full access to Cody’s Choices and Deans Choices and the other 800+ resources.

Having clarified with NWG all Academies, Free and Private Schools will need to join NWG in their own right. 


National Resource

The NWG Network and The Children’s Society have developed a campaign pack supporting local safeguarding children boards to work with retail, transport, leisure and hospitality businesses to protect children in their communities from child sexual exploitation.

Click here for this campaign packack includes posters, leaflets and training materials for staff. It will help employees to look out for signs of exploitation, grooming and trafficking and provide information on what to do if they are concerned about a child. It will also assist employers to carry out risks assessments and vetting of staff.


Resource Pack for Councils- Local Government Association


National Reports

 Children's commissioner logo

A report from the Office of the Children's Commissioner's Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in gangs and groups.  For the report click here.

Barnardos logo Barnardo's Puppet on a string report.

NSPCC logo NSPCC Sexual Exploitation tools on YouTube

The NSPCC has produced three short animations, available on YouTube, which each deal with the subject of sexual exploitation in a different way. The animations attempt to clarify the complex issues involved and offer starting points for discussion with young people who might be experiencing similar problems. The animations can be found here: 'My story is real','When someone cares', 'Jay'

Sexual Abuse of children and young people through exploitation.


Ofsted Inspection

The Bedford Borough Safeguarding Children Board (BBSCB) is judged to be 'Good' in a report published today by Ofsted. For more details of the report and a statement by Jenny Myers, Independent Chair of BBSCB can be found here 


Child Sexual Exploitation Conference

‘The More You Know, The More You See’ – Child Sexual Exploitation Conference

Date: Thursday 28th September 2017

Venue: The Rufus Centre, Flitwick

Time: 9:30 – 4:30 (Registration 9:00 – 9:30)

For more details please click here