What should you know?

As a professional working with children and young people please make sure you have read the definition and guide for practitioners produced by the Department for Education in 2017. 

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is defined as a:

“form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity (a) in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or (b) for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator. The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual. Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.”

Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leads and decision makers working to protect children from child exploitation.

Annexes to ‘Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation.

Types of CSE

Abusers ‘groom’ a child for sexual exploitation by breaking down defences to gain trust or forming an emotional relationship with them. There are different models of grooming:

Peer on peer – Young people befriend other young people and make them believe they are in a loving ‘relationship’ or friendship and then coerce them to have sex with friends or associates.

Organised/Networked CSE (Trafficking) – Young people are trafficked through networks, locally and across the country, and coerced or forced into having sex, often with multiple men. This may take place at “parties”.

Inappropriate relationships – The abuser has inappropriate power or control over a young person (physical, emotional or financial).

Boyfriend – The abuser grooms a young person into a ‘relationship’ and then coerces or forces them to have sex with friends or associates.

Gang – Gangs can use sex to exert power and control over members, for initiation, in exchange for status or protection, to entrap rival gang members or use sexual assault as a weapon in conflict.

CSE Tool

The initial CSE screen is used to provisionally determine what level of risk is posed to a child, and to assist with decision making and (if required), support a referral – click here to access the tool.

Local information

Read our Child Exploitation and Missing Children Strategy for 2019 – 2021 which was signed off by Wiltshire’s Community Safety Partnership in March 2019. This  strategy  sets out our  intentions in how we will work together to keep children and young people in our county safe from exploitation and harm.  It also provides information about what we  know locally about the current level of threat and those most at risk.

We now have a ‘Vulnerable Adolescents Contextual Safeguarding Panel’ (VACS) to ensure multi-agency information and intelligence is gathered and shared to identify children and young people who are vulnerable to exploitation. We will map hotspots, trends and risks in missing episodes, identify victim and perpetrator information and target criminal activity involving children including County Lines.

VACS replaces the Wiltshire’s Risk Management Panel (WRMG) and the Multi-Agency Child Sexual Exploitation meeting (MACSE) with a more strategic and tactical multi-agency focus, specifically around child exploitation.

What else can professionals do?

You can promote the #saysomething campaign and raise awareness with young people you work with; there is a free national helpline and text service they can contact with their concerns.

The following posters were produced by the National Working Group (NWG) which has a range of resources for parents and professionals:


Pocket sized leaflets are available to order for you and your staff or organisation, contact lscb@wiltshire.gov.uk.

You can also read the Wiltshire CSE Partnership Profile, which is intended to set out the extent of CSE and missing children; to help professionals better understand local issues and enable targeting of support and services.

Practice Guidance (from Centre of Expertise on CSA)

Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Professionals in School Settings

Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Multi-agency working

Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Staff working in health settings

Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Social workers

Children with SEND

Children and young people with SEND are at particular risk of exploitation. Helping them to understand about sex and relationships can help keep them safe. Here is a resource list of useful links and other resources that are suitable when working with children and young people with SEND:

   Useful online resources list for supporting young people with learning disabilities with relationships and sex education

   ‘How it is’ (an image vocabulary for children about feelings, rights and safety, personal care and sexuality)

County Lines

County lines is the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas and market and coastal towns. It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money. Children who are being sexually exploited may also be involved in criminal exploitation. For more information click here.


Other useful advice and guidance around child exploitation and missing children:

Preventing trafficked children going missing: information and advice for professionals