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1.4.11 Child Sexual Exploitation

SCOPE OF THIS CHAPTER

This chapter contains information on risk factors / indicators for Child Sexual Exploitation. It also explains the process for referring on any concerns, and the action that will follow to safeguard the children and young people concerned.

RELEVANT DOCUMENTS

Relevant documents can be found in the Resources and Forms Library.

RELATED LOCAL GUIDANCE

Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Information Form

Leeds LSCB CSE Protocols

See also West Yorkshire Safeguarding Children Board Consortium Safeguarding Children and Young People from Child Sexual Exploitation: Policy, Procedures and Guidance


Contents

  1. What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?
  2. What Needs to Happen if There is a Concern That a Child may be at Risk of CSE?
  3. Identifying Children at Risk of Sexual Exploitation and Identifying the Level of Risk
  4. Child Sexual Exploitation Information Report and Risk Identification Tool
  5. Child Sexual Exploitation Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting and Plan
  6. Actions Following the Meeting
  7. Quality of Recording
  8. Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme


1. What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?

Child sexual exploitation is a crime with devastating and long lasting consequences for its victims and their families. Childhoods and family life can be ruined and this is compounded when victims, or those at risk of abuse, do not receive appropriate, immediate and on-going support. The first response to children, and support for them to access help, must be the best it can be from social workers, residential care workers, police, health practitioners and others who work with children and their families.

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. Sexual abuse may involve physical contact, including assault by penetration (for example, rape or oral sex) or non-penetrative acts such as masturbation, kissing, rubbing and touching outside clothing. It may include non-contact activities, such as involving children in the production of sexual images, forcing children to look at sexual images or watch sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways or grooming a child in preparation for abuse (including via the internet).

The definition of child sexual exploitation is as follows:

Child sexual exploitation is 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.

(Child sexual exploitation - Definition and a guide for practitioners, local leaders and decision makers working to protect children from child sexual exploitation (DfE, 2017))

Like all forms of child sexual abuse, child sexual exploitation:

  • Can affect any child or young person (male or female) under the age of 18 years, including 16 and 17 year olds who can legally consent to have sex;
  • Can still be abuse even if the sexual activity appears consensual;
  • Can include both contact (penetrative and non-penetrative acts) and non-contact sexual activity;
  • Can take place in person or via technology, or a combination of both;
  • Can involve force and/or enticement-based methods of compliance and may, or may not, be accompanied by violence or threats of violence;
  • May occur without the child or young person’s immediate knowledge (through others copying videos or images they have created and posting on social media, for example);
  • Can be perpetrated by individuals or groups, males or females, and children or adults. The abuse can be a one-off occurrence or a series of incidents over time, and range from opportunistic to complex organised abuse; and
  • Is typified by some form of power imbalance in favour of those perpetrating the abuse. Whilst age may be the most obvious, this power imbalance can also be due to a range of other factors including gender, sexual identity, cognitive ability, physical strength, status, and access to economic or other resources.

Child sexual exploitation is a complex form of abuse and it can be difficult for those working with children to identify and assess. The indicators for child sexual exploitation can sometimes be mistaken for ‘normal adolescent behaviours’. It requires knowledge, skills, professional curiosity and an assessment which analyses the risk factors and personal circumstances of individual children to ensure that the signs and symptoms are interpreted correctly and appropriate support is given. Even where a young person is old enough to legally consent to sexual activity, the law states that consent is only valid where they make a choice and have the freedom and capacity to make that choice. If a child feels they have no other meaningful choice, are under the influence of harmful substances or fearful of what might happen if they don’t comply (all of which are common features in cases of child sexual exploitation) consent cannot legally be given whatever the age of the child. 

Child sexual exploitation is never the victim’s fault, even if there is some form of exchange: all children and young people under the age of 18 have a right to be safe and should be protected from harm.

CSE covers a spectrum of situations including seemingly 'consensual' relationships where sex is exchanged for attention/ accommodation/ food, drugs / gifts, or it can involve serious organised crime and child trafficking across counties, towns or villages for the purpose of sexual activity.

What marks out exploitation is an imbalance of power in a relationship, coercion, intimidation, bullying or grooming for sexual activity.

Children at risk of CSE may have a number of vulnerabilities or risk indicators such as low self-esteem and poor self-image, self-harm, missing from home or care, bullying, substance misuse.

Some children are particularly vulnerable such as children with learning difficulties; children looked after, care leavers, migrant children and unaccompanied asylum seeking children.

Children are at risk of CSE from both people they do and do not know. Most sexual exploitation occurs within inappropriate intimate partner relationships, and these can be in-person or online. Due to the nature of grooming methods used by perpetrators, it is common for the child or young person not to recognise that they are being abused. Some recognised models of child sexual exploitation are:

  • Inappropriate relationships: usually involving a sole perpetrator who has inappropriate power or control over a child (physical, emotional, financial) and uses this to sexually exploit them.
  • Boyfriend model: the perpetrator befriends and grooms a child into a 'relationship' and then coerces or forces them to have sex with friends or associates.
  • Peer exploitation and indirect peer: Peer exploitation usually involves the perpetrator (who is often known to the victim) using coercion / manipulation / blackmail to force the victim into participating in some form of sexual activity (in person or online). Indirect peer exploitation involves other young people engaging peers in exploitation but not initiating the abuse, it can involve a young person being manipulated /coerced by peers or associates to engage in sexual activity with one or several peers present at the time and often there is little no pretence of a special or intimate relationship with any of the perpetrators.
  • Party lifestyle: Involves children being befriended by the perpetrators (in person or online) or through other young people. Young people are encouraged /manipulated to attend 'parties' at flats, houses or hotels, where alcohol and drugs are frequently available and at which there are often unknown guests, children are often coerced to have sex with multiple others.
  • Organised / networked sexual exploitation: Perpetrator networks and or groups force children (who are often connected via friendship groups) into sexual activity with others. Some children who are involved may be used as 'recruiters' of other children.


2. What Needs to Happen if There is a Concern That a Child may be at Risk of CSE?

The child's specific needs with regard to the risk of child sexual exploitation must be acted on immediately and specifically.

This may result in a referral to Children and Families' Services if there is not an open social work case.

The level of risk must be identified via the completion of the Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Information Form.

If the level of risk is deemed to be medium or high, the risk must be managed by a specific Vulnerability & Risk Management Meeting and Plan.

The CSE & Missing Coordinator within the ISU must be kept informed from the initial concern and then at each decision point and following each Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting.

The CSE & Missing Coordinator will share information and liaise with the Police Safeguarding Unit.


3. Identifying Children at Risk of Sexual Exploitation and Identifying the Level of Risk

To support identification, refer to: Children at risk of sexual exploitation - Managing a Concern Process.

The Duty & Advice Team provide the initial opportunity to identify if a child is at risk of CSE when a request for service is received.

If the child already has an open case, any information received by Duty & Advice is provided straight to the allocated Social Worker.

The Duty and Advice Team should inform the CSE & Missing Coordinator of a CSE referral within 24 hours by email.

If the child is not currently open as a case to Children's Social Work Service (CSWS) a referral is made to the relevant cluster team. A Child and Family Assessment should then be undertaken.

Alongside the Child and Family Assessment, the Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Information Form should be completed in each case where a concern regarding Child Sexual exploitation has been raised. Following this, the Social Worker and Team Manager will decide on the category of risk and immediacy of the safeguarding concern.

On completion of the Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Information Form this should be emailed to the CSE & Missing Coordinator, at specialist.safeguarding@leeds.gov.uk, within 24 hours, and the activity recorded on Mosaic within two working days. Alternatively if the tool is completed on Mosaic, notification that this has occurred needs to be sent to the LADO2 team.


4. Child Sexual Exploitation Information Report and Risk Identification Tool

See also, Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Information Form.

The front sheet - Information Report - is to provide basic information about the child to the CSE and Missing Coordinator. As much detail as possible should be provided. The subsequent pages comprise the Risk Identification Tool.

When completing the Child Sexual Exploitation Risk Identification Tool, all of the individual risk indicators must be considered in relation to their relevance of the child being at risk of or experiencing sexual exploitation. Each individual risk indicator heading must be ticked in only one of the four levels of risk; no risk, low risk, medium risk or high risk.

After the level of risk for each indicator has been highlighted, analysis of the professional judgment regarding how the risk level indicated is linked to the child being at risk of or experiencing sexual exploitation must be evidenced.

The possible signs / behaviours / under each of the separate levels of risk for each of the indicators are not exhaustive lists and are simply those mostly commonly recognised that may indicate a level risk of sexual exploitation relating to that particular area.

Once each of the individual risk indicators have been considered, with the level of risk clearly identified, an overall professional judgment regarding the level of risk of the child experiencing or being at risk of sexual exploitation must to be highlighted.

The Child Sexual Exploitation Information Report and Risk Indentation Tool is not intended to be prescriptive or replace professional knowledge and judgement, it is a tool to evidence and plan for the assessed risk.

Risk identified - No risk of CSE

No risk of CSE identified but may involve the requirement of service provision for other identified needs /risks.

Risk identified - Low risk for CSE - Inform CSE & Missing Coordinator

If not an existing open case to CSWS, a direct referral to appropriate service and or an Early Help Assessment may be required.

If already an open case - the existing plan for the child continues (CP, CLA, CiN). In addition a direct referral to additional services may be appropriate.

Risk identified - Medium risk for CSE - Inform CSE & Missing Coordinator

If not an existing open case to CSWS, the child should be identified as a Child in Need with a Child and Family Assessment under s17 and Child in Need Plan.

If already an open case - the existing plan for the child continues (CP,CLA, CiN).

Either way, a Child Sexual Exploitation Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting must be convened to develop the plan.

Risk identified - Category 3 high risk for CSE- Inform CSE & Missing Coordinator

If not an existing open case to CSWS, there should be a CSE strategy discussion. The outcome may be Child in Need or that an Initial Child Protection Conference (ICPC) is required. If the outcome is an ICPC, a Child and Family Assessment under s47 and Child Protection Plan is developed.

If outcome is Child in Need, a Child and Family Assessment under s17 and Child in Need Plan is developed. If already an open case there should be a CSE strategy discussion. The existing plan for the child continues (CP, CLA) and may be subject to an early Review (Core Group, Child Protection Conference or Looked After Review). For CLA the IRO must be consulted by the social worker to determine  whether an early review is required, given the child or young person’s particular circumstances.

If the level of risk is medium or high, a Child Sexual Exploitation Vulnerability & Risk Management Meeting must be convened to develop the plan.

The Child Sexual Exploitation Information Report & Risk Identification Tool is emailed to the CSE & Missing Coordinator within 24 hours of completion - specialist.safeguarding@leeds.gov.uk, via secure to: specialist.safeguarding@leeds.gcsx.gov.uk

These are to be reviewed:

  • Every month if the risk is high;
  • Every three months for medium risk;
  • Every three months if low risk.

However if new information may come to light that requires a risk assessment to be reviewed at any time. All risk assessments about CSE should be shared with the ISU.


5. Child Sexual Exploitation Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting and Plan

In order to specifically manage vulnerability and risk related to CSE, the social work practitioner must either evidence CSE risk management in the existing plan or completes the Child Sexual Exploitation Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting and Plan.

Either way, the social work practitioner should convene a CSE Vulnerability & Risk Management Meeting. All appropriate professionals should be invited and as appropriate, the child or young person and their parent /carer.

If the child or young person or their parent / carer is not attending the meeting, their views should be sought beforehand and they should be updated following the meeting.

The CSE Vulnerability & Risk Management Plan should be developed at the initial meeting and reviewed at subsequent meetings.

SMART actions should be agreed which have identified people responsible for them and are: Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic and Timely. Any existing overall plan for the child (CP, CLA, CiN) should be referred to and the two plans should complement not duplicate one another.

At the initial meeting, the frequency of subsequent meetings should be agreed as per the level of risk. Meetings may be convened in the period between other statutory meetings such as Looked After Reviews, Child Protection Conferences. If appropriate, the meeting could be aligned to an existing arranged meeting such as a Core Group or a Review meeting.

Actions identified on the CSE & Missing Vulnerability and Risk Management Plan need to be incorporated into or inform existing plans for the child or young person.


6. Actions Following the Meeting

Complete the Child Sexual Exploitation Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting and Plan template and update following each subsequent meeting within two working days and record activity on Mosaic. Share the plan after each meeting within five working days or earlier as per the level of risk with the:

Record the CSE Vulnerability and Risk Management Meeting and Plan on Mosaic within two working days of completion and place the signed copy of the plan in the paper file.


7. Quality of Recording

Check all actions have allocated responsibilities and action by dates against them.

Be mindful of the purpose of the recording and the potential audience for the recording (young people, families, Inspectors etc.)  


8. Child Sex Offender Disclosure Scheme

The Child Sex Offender Review (CSOR) Disclosure Scheme is designed to provide members of the public with a formal mechanism to ask for disclosure about people they are concerned about, who have unsupervised access to children and may therefore pose a risk. This scheme builds on existing, well established third-party disclosures that operate under the Multi-Agency Public Protection Arrangements (MAPPA).

Police will reveal details confidentially to the person most able to protect the child (usually parents, carers or guardians) if they think it is in the child’s interests.

The scheme has been operating in all 43 police areas in England and Wales since 2010. The scheme is managed by the Police and information can only be accessed through direct application to them.

If a disclosure is made, the information must be kept confidential and only used to keep the child in question safe. Legal action may be taken if confidentiality is breached. A disclosure is delivered in person (as opposed to in writing) with the following warning:

  • 'That the information must only be used for the purpose for which it has been shared i.e. in order to safeguard children;
  • The person to whom the disclosure is made will be asked to sign an undertaking that they agree that the information is confidential and they will not disclose this information further;
  • A warning should be given that legal proceedings could result if this confidentiality is breached. This should be explained to the person and they must sign the undertaking’ (Home Office, 2011, p16).
If the person is unwilling to sign the undertaking, the police must consider whether the disclosure should still take place.

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