Child sexual exploitation (CSE) occurs when someone uses power over young people to sexually abuse them.
The National Working Group for Sexually Exploited Children and Young People defines it as: "someone taking advantage of you sexually for their own benefit. Through threats, bribes, violence, humiliation or by telling you that they love you, they will have the power to get you to do sexual things for their own, or other people’s benefit or enjoyment (including touching or kissing private parts, sex, taking sexual photos)."
Sometimes, a young person may not recognise they are being sexually-exploited; for example, being persuaded to pose for and post sexual images online without payment or gain.
The abuser may have power over them on account of age, gender, intellect, physical strength or money. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common. The young person's choices are limited because of their vulnerability (social, economic or emotional).
Gloucestershire Constabulary, together with partner agencies including Social Services, Education, Health and voluntary organisations, is committed to safeguarding children identified as being at risk of child sexual exploitation.
What do I do now?
There have been many national campaigns regarding child sexual exploitation and Say Something if you See Something is the key message to identifying this sometimes hidden form of child abuse. Everyone has a responsibility to report any behaviour thought to be CSE. If you:
- suspect a child is being sexually exploited and is at immediate risk call 999 and the police will respond immediately to ensure everyone is safe and also secure any evidence required for criminal investigation
- have concerns, but believe a child is not at immediate risk then call the police on 101 and ask that a police incident is created with the details you wish to share
- have concerns, but wish to provide information anonymously then you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111
It is important to give a much information as possible because this will allow staff taking the call to ensure the correct level of resource is allocated.
What happens next?
If you call 999 or call using the 101 system, the police operator will assess the information provided and either ensure there is an immediate response or a response within an appropriate time period.
If you wish to be spoken to at a separate location then please inform the control room operator who will record the police incident and signpost it to the appropriate police team.
Once a report has been made, a multi-agency safeguarding team which includes the police will assess the risk and look at what actions are necessary to ensure the child or children are kept safe.
The police have a duty to investigate criminal offences and have a dedicated Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) team that can investigate if appropriate.
As part of the investigation, it may be necessary to speak with you. Please do not worry about this. All options will be discussed and your safety, the safety of your family as well as the person at risk will be paramount.
What else can I do?
The NWG Network has produced a toolkit to help you spot signs of child sexual exploitation. The key message is Say Something if you See Something. It is important you report any concerns you have regarding child sexual exploitation.
If you wish to find out more or would rather not speak to the police then there are a number of other organisations that you can contact including:
- Social Services children's helpdesk
- CEOP (National Crime Agency command on child protection)
- Barnardo’s (Children's charity supporting vulnerable children)
- NSPCC (Children's charity fighting to end child abuse)
- GRASAC (Gloucestershire Rape and Sexual Abuse Centre)
- SARC (Sexual Assault Referral Centre) 01452 754390
- NWG Network (Network tackling child sexual exploitation)
- PACE UK (Parents against Child Sexual Exploitation)