Children and young people who are sexually exploited are the victims of child sexual abuse and their needs require careful assessment. They are likely to be in need of welfare services and in many cases protection under the Children Act 1989. This group may include children who have been sexually abused through the misuse of technology, coerced into sexual activity by criminal gangs or the victims of trafficking. Every Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) should put in place systems to monitor the prevalence of, and responses to, sexual exploitation. The Department for Education has published guidance on Safeguarding Children and Young People from Sexual Exploitation.
The guidance states that LSCBs should also ensure that specific local procedures are in place covering the sexual exploitation of children and young people. The procedures should be a subset of the LSCB procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, and be consistent with local youth offending protocols. The identification of a child who is being sexually exploited, or at risk of being sexually exploited, should always trigger the agreed local procedures to ensure the child's safety and welfare, and to enable the police to gather evidence about abusers and coercers.
Strong links have been identified between different forms of sexual exploitation, running away from home, gang activity, child trafficking and substance misuse, and these should be borne in mind in the development of procedures. Procedures should include identifying signs of sexual exploitation, routes for referring concerns, advice on working with other professionals to disrupt sexual exploitation and support victims, and gathering and preserving evidence about perpetrators, as well as how to deal with more complex issues such as those relating to the increasing use of the internet in sexual exploitation.
In the wrong hands
'In the wrong hands' is a major campaign to fight child sexual exploitation on Teesside. The thought-provoking campaign outlines what child sexual exploitation (CSE) is, the tell-tale signs to look out for, and where to get help or report concerns.
Key campaign messages
Child sexual exploitation is a serious crime. Victims of sexual exploitation are often unaware that they are being exploited. This type of abuse can happen to any child or young person up to the age of 18 from any background.
Leaflets and posters can be used by professionals and local councils to further raise the awareness of the campaign and strengthen the message.
Whether you're a victim or you know someone who may be, support is available. Please speak up. Child sexual exploitation is a serious crime.
For confidential support and advice please contact:
Providing information / intelligence to Cleveland Police
Cleveland Police's 'partnership information sharing report' form can be used by professionals working under the safeguarding agenda to inform the police of any information regarding child sexual exploitation.
This could include names (including nicknames) of suspected perpetrators, locations where CSE may be taking place, car registrations, and/or the numbers of vehicles seen in suspicious circumstances.
The information will then be recorded on the police intelligence system and used to better understand the problem of CSE in Middlesbrough and Teesside, and to enable a coordinated response.
MSCB Strategic VEMT group
The purpose of the MSCB Strategic VEMT group is to ensure a multi-agency response to sharing information, monitoring risk and analysing data for children and young people who may be vulnerable, exploited, missing or trafficked. This group reports to the Tees Strategic VEMT Group and the MSCB on a regular basis, as the chair is a member of both forums. The group also oversees the work undertaken by the MSCB Vulnerable Young People's Group (MSCB VPG).
MSCB VEMT Practitioners group (VPG)
The VPG supports frontline practitioners in their role of supporting a child / young person by formulating an action plan. This can support an existing plan for the child or young person, whether they're subject to child in need, child protection or looked after (either voluntarily or through a care order).
The group is based on partnership problem solving and ensuring positive outcomes for children and young people.
In Middlesbrough the VPG is an amalgamation of two pre-existing groups (MSCB Practitioners Group, Victims, which considered additional support for children / young people at risk of sexual exploitation, and RMHC, which considered children and young people who were 'running / missing from home / care'). The group continues to discuss and support children and young people who are identified as vulnerable.
Tees Strategic VEMT group
This group works to address the issues of vulnerable, exploited, missing or trafficked children. It's chaired by Cleveland Police and is an amalgamation of the four Tees LSCBs (Hartlepool, Middlesbrough, Redcar & Cleveland, and Stockton on Tees), which meets on a bi-monthly basis.
The group was established to provide strategic direction across Teesside for professionals working with children and young people who may be at risk of, or vulnerable to, exploitation, or who, through going missing, may be at risk.
Children who run away or go missing from home or care
Say Something If You See Something
Barnardo's works to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children.
CEOP (formerly the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) works to protect children from harm online and offline.
NSPCC works to prevent child abuse and neglect.
Thinkuknow teaches children and young people aged 5-17 to identify the risks they may face online and tells them where they can go for support.
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