Child Exploitation


 The legal definition of CSE, published by HM Government on 16 February 2017 is:

“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.”

Redbridge and Child Exploitation

There are children in Redbridge who are being exploited.  There are different types, the main ones being criminal exploitation and sexual exploitation, which can occur independently or together. We know this because exploitation of children and young people has been identified throughout the UK, in both rural and urban areas, and in all parts of the world. It affects boys and young men and girls and young women.

It can have a serious long term impact on every aspect of their lives, health and education. Adults working with children, young people and families need to be aware of the signs of exploitation and what makes some children and young people more vulnerable than others.

Operation Makesafe

Businesses across the Borough are  asked to do their part to identify and stamp out Child Sexual Exploitation as part of Operation Makesafe. Say something if you see something

The Police and the Council have sent letters to hotels, guesthouses and taxi companies in Redbridge asking them to sign a pledge and commit to tackling the issue. Along with the letter businesses will also receive awareness raising materials that they are free to use and display.

By encouraging local businesses to “say something if you see something” the Police and Council hope to build an awareness in the community about the issues and encourage these businesses to commit to zero tolerance of CSE.

View the Operation Makesafe posters

Key facts about Child Sexual Exploitation

  • 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 child or young person can be targeted.
    Children looked after by a local authority, young people leaving care, and children with disabilities can be particularly vulnerable.
  • 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.

Signs that might alert you to the possibility that a child is being sexually exploited

The following signs and behaviour are often seen in children who are already being sexually exploited:

  • Missing from home or care
  • Physical injuries
  • Drug or alcohol misuse
  • Involvement in offending
  • Retreated sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations
  • Absent from school
  • Change in physical appearance
  • Evidence of sexual bullying and/or vulnerability through the internet and/or social; networking sites
  • Estranged from their family
  • Receipt of gifts from unknown sources
  • Recruiting others into exploitative situations
  • Poor mental health
  • Self-harm
  • Thoughts of or attempts at suicide

How are we tackling child sexual exploitation in Redbridge

The approach is to improve the protection and support of children who are sexually exploited, and to strengthen our work in identifying, disrupting and prosecuting Child Sexual Exploitation. The RSCP developed a Child Sexual Exploitation Prevention and Intervention Strategy which outlines the RSCP’s approach to tackling CSE in Redbridge.

There is a co-ordinated multi-agency approach to tackling CSE across the Borough, based on our multi-agency CSE Prevention and Intervention Strategy (2nd Edition), 2018  and these include:

  • Regular meetings between the Police, Children’s Social Care, health agencies and other agencies to share intelligence Increasing awareness of child sexual exploitation among practitioners
  • Increasing awareness of child sexual exploitation among local businesses
  • Multi-agency analysis to identify themes, types of abuse, hotspots in the local area, and prevalence.
  • CSE champions identified within partner agencies to take on the role of a CSE lead within their organisation
  • Commissioning services to help and support children who go missing from home or care
  • Multi-agency training and briefing sessions
  • Designated Police Officers dealing primarily with CSE.

 A Working Group, chaired by the Redbridge CSE/Missing coordinator  is taking forward a number of work streams which will provide support to schools in relation to raising awareness of CSE.  See below letters from the RSCP (formerly LSCB) Independent Chair to Headteachers in Redbridge:

What you should do if you suspect a child is being sexually exploited

If you have concerns or suspect that a child is being sexually exploited please telephone Redbridge Council on:

  • 020 8708 3885 (9.00am to 5.00pm)
  • 020 8708 5897 (after 5.00pm)

Alternatively, you may complete and submit a LBR Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF) Template to

Research, Resources and Guidance for Practitioners