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Child Sexual Abuse & Exploitation


Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)

Child Sexual Abuse

The definition given in Working Together 2018 for child sexual abuse is:

‘Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or young person to take part in sexual activities, not necessarily involving a high level of violence, whether or not the child is aware of what is happening. The activities 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 of clothing. 

They may also include non-contact activities, such as involving children in looking at, or in the production of, sexual images, watching sexual activities, encouraging children to behave in sexually inappropriate ways, or grooming a child in preparation for abuse Sexual abuse can take place online, and technology can be used to facilitate offline abuse. Sexual abuse is not solely perpetrated by adult males. Women can also commit acts of sexual abuse, as can other children.'


CSA can take many forms including:

  • Abuse by trusted adults (inter and extra familial)
  • Organised and complex abuse
  • Abuse within exploitative personal relationships
  • Abuse by another child or young person



There are a couple of tools available on the CYSCP Tools webpage which may assist you when working with children and young people who are displaying signs of harmful sexual behaviour. 


Child Exploitation (CE)

child exploitation

Child Exploitation is a type of abuse. When a child or young person is exploited they’re groomed by being given things, like gifts, drugs, money, status and affection. This is usually in exchange for carrying out a criminal activity, known as Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) or performing sexual activities, known as Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE).

The CYSCP Child Exploitation Screening Tool is to be used as an aid by practitioners to help them consider the level of risk a child or young person might be at, through thinking about their individual needs via their behaviour and known information, and can be found on our Tools webpage.

This video produced by PACE also demonstrates how parents spotted the signs when their children were being exploited.

Further information is available on the PACE website.



A Multi Agency Child Exploitation Meeting (MACEM) process was established by Children’s Social Care jointly with North Yorkshire Police and on a multi-agency basis. It is a monthly meeting focusing on all aspects of child exploitation and young people transitioning to adult services. Its membership consists of partners from health, education, drug services, mental health among others and it helps to reduce the chances of agencies working in silos or duplicating work or resources.

Weekly intelligence sharing meetings take place between the Community Safety team, North Yorkshire Police and Children’s Social Care involving only those staff who are police vetted. Membership will soon be extended to include Adult Social Care. This meeting is pivotal to the increase in speed at which the community safety team are able to take enforcement action in order to disrupt local county lines activity and share any patterns or impact on children and young people.

For further information please see the Terms of Reference.

Missing and Exploitation Team 

The City of York Council Safeguarding Board launched its initial Child Sexual Abuse Exploitation Strategy in 2012.  During 2018, the City of York Council Children and Young People Services created a Social Work post (Child Sexual Exploitation Senior Social Worker).  The post was co-located within the assessment team, and aimed at increasing the co-ordinated response to CSE/CCE across the city. 

In 2018 York and North Yorkshire were successful in a combined bid for DfE Trusted Relationships Funding. This funding is being used to enhance schemes such as the Volunteer Mentor Programme and other support work, including family group conferencing work, for vulnerable young people at risk of exploitation or being exploited. 

During 2019/2020, the focus on improving social work practice across the service identified that significant work was needed to strengthen the partnership responses to missing children and those vulnerable to exploitation.  During early 2020 senior managers within the Council committed to creating a larger, more specialist resource to engage directly with these children, aimed at reducing risk and increasing resilience.  

In response, a specialist Missing and Exploitation Team was formed. Alongside Police, health, Education and YJS colleagues, the team’s focus is to: 

  • identify those children most at risk of exploitation in the city,
  • co-ordinate mapping activity,
  • share and collate intelligence,
  • develop approaches to the investigation of exploitation and vulnerability such that offenders are identified and young people are effectively helped. 

This is achieved through direct work and engagement with young people and their families, as well as carefully planned work, with persistent and skilled workers who will engage with young people and their carers, to help understand their specific needs and strengths, as well as the impact of abuse and trauma

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

The Department for Education defined CSE in 2017 as: 

'Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse ... 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’

Children and young people, who are being sexually exploited, or may be at risk of this, can come to the attention of any practitioner in any agency.


 government logo


DfE Child Sexual Exploitation Definition and Guidance for Practitioners 2017

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Child criminal exploitation involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where children (under 18) receive or are promised ‘something’ tangible e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, gifts or money or ‘something’ intangible e.g. affection, respect, status or protection in return for committing a criminal act for the benefit of another individual or group of individuals or be threatened, coerced or intimidated into committing that criminal act.

In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. The child may be being exploited, even if the activity appears consensual and does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology. A defining feature of CCE is the lack of choice available to the child either as a result of the child’s social/economic/emotional vulnerability and or the violence, coercion, intimidation exerted upon them.

Criminal exploitation takes many forms, the most common relating to the supply and movement of drugs (often referred to as “County Lines”), offences in relation to guns and other weapons, money laundering, violent offences and in some cases “cuckooing” where criminals forcibly take over control of a person’s home.


 county lines


North Yorkshire and City of York Criminal Exploitation and County Lines Guidance 2019 can be found on our CYSCP Practice Guidance page.

Please also visit The Childrens Society - Tackling Criminal Exploitation for further information.

Project Alliance have created this What Is Cuckooing? Leaflet.

County Lines

‘County lines’ is the police term for urban gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns using dedicated mobile phone lines or “deal lines”. Among young people it is known as 'going country'.  It involves child criminal exploitation (CCE) as gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money. County lines is a major, cross-cutting issue involving drugs, violence, gangs, safeguarding, criminal and sexual exploitation, modern slavery, and missing persons. Once caught up in County Lines, exploited individuals are at risk of extreme physical and/or sexual violence, gang recriminations and trafficking.

County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities.

If you are concerned that a child is being criminally exploited - a 'County Lines' victim - whether from York or found in York, this is a safeguarding matter and you should follow normal safeguarding procedures: Concerned About a Child  

There is also a useful Blog and further recent guidance on our 'Systemic Practice' Blog page called County Lines.

 county lines partner pack    
 Home Office County Lines Partner Pack  



More information and government guidance

Home Office Guidelines for Frontline Professionals

Updated November 2018 Home Office Guidelines

National Crime Agency advice

The Children's Society website has resources, information including advice for parents 

Fearless is a service that allows you to pass on information about crime 100% anonymously


NRM pilot, Trafficking and Modern Slavery

North Yorkshire County Council and City of York Council are delighted to announce that they have been chosen to be one of 10 local areas in their joint bid to the Home Office to deliver a pilot to test the devolving responsibility to make NRM decisions for children. The NRM is a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring that they receive appropriate support.

Please see the attached briefing for further information.

Further documentation and guidance is currently being developed and will be uploaded as soon as this is available.


modern slavery


Trafficking is defined as ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons (including children) by means of threat, force or coercion for the purpose of sexual or commercial sexual exploitation or domestic servitude’ (United Nations).

Children may be trafficked into the UK from abroad, but children can also be trafficked from one part of the UK to another.

Modern Slavery is the condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the rights of ownership are exercised. People are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. It is a global crime which transcends age, gender, ethnicity, and borders. Victims of modern slavery may have being brought legally or illegally from overseas, or they may be British citizens living in the United Kingdom. Unaccompanied and/or intentionally displaced children are at particular risk.  

How to spot the signs of Child Trafficking

 nspcc trafficking



Read the NSPCC advice to help you spot the signs of Child Trafficking and report your concerns

If any suspicions are raised that a child or young person is a victim of Modern Slavery or of being trafficked, or at risk of this, immediate action to safeguard the child or young person is required. See the Concerned about a Child page.

Further information and advice/guidance

Organisations like Local Authorities, the Police and the NSPCC are “first responder” organisations. When the Children and Family Service and the Police have assessed the indicators of trafficking and arrangements have been put in place to safeguard the child, first responders should refer the child to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) using the NRM Referral Form. See our Trafficking and NRM One Minute Guide.

North Yorkshire Police have also produced a Modern Day Slavery Toolkit and Reference Guide.  This toolkit covers modern slavery for both adults and children. For children, this toolkit should be read in conjunction with the NRM One Minute Guide as well as the Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship Service One Minute Guide.

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Podcasts

Please see below some useful podcasts which have been produced by York Anti-Trafficking Society on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking:

Useful Links:

 modern slavery image


National Referral Mechanism Guidance for Child First Responders

Modern Slavery Act 2015 

Home Office Modern Slavery training resource page

Hope For Justice

UNSEEN Modern Slavery Confidential Helpline 

Independent Modern Slavery Commissioner

Royal College of Nursing Modern Slavery and Trafficking Guidance for Nurses and Midwives

Local Guidance, Forms and Procedures

The Trusted Relationships Project is a multi-agency collaborative approach to identification and support for children and young people who are primarily at risk of or subject to Child Criminal Exploitation, including County Lines, Child Sexual Exploitation and Modern Slavery. Details of the Trafficking and NRM One Minutes Guide can be found on our One Minute Guide page.

National Guidance and Research


 child sexual abuse and exploitation scale



The CSA Centre guidance on The Scale and Nature of Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation

government image    
 Government guidance on Children Using the Internet    
child exploitation disruption toolkit     
 The Home Office Child Exploitation Disruption Toolkit for those working to safeguard children and young people under the age of 18 from exploitation.     

 anglican church

Child Sexual Abuse in the Anglican Church

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) published a report during October 2020.  



The Research in Practice website hosts a wealth of information, research, recorded and forthcoming webinars. 



It's Not OK Campaign

The "It’s not ok" campaign took place during 2015/16 as a joint initiative between CYSCP, NSPCC and York St John University to raise awareness of CSA and CSE across the city with public and professionals. The materials created during the campaign are still used in schools and the campaign was nationally acclaimed.  The It’s Not Ok play and workshop have now been turned into new digital resources for secondary schools, community groups and practitioners. You can find the free resources here:


Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation is NEVER okay. For support or if you’re concerned that a child has been sexually abused please contact the NSPCC 24 hour helpline Tel: 0808 800 5000 or email: If a child is at immediate risk of harm call 999.

Talk PANTS and you've got it covered

  • Privates are private
  • Always remember your body belongs to you
  • No means no
  • Talk about secrets that upset you
  • Speak up, someone can help


Removing a child or young persons image online - Report Remove


A tool that works to help young people get nude images or videos removed from the internet has been launched the NSPCC’s Childline service and the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF).

The Report Remove tool can be used by any young person under 18 to report a nude image or video of themselves that has appeared online. The IWF will then review this content and work to have it removed if it breaks the law.

Further information about the launch can be found here.

Report Remove campaign launch summary

Report Remove 


Online Safety

The CYSCP have produced information for children and young people which has been endorsed by the York Youth Council. If you are working with a young person and have concerns around their online safety please visit the Online Safety webpage for further resources.

Online Sexual Harm Reduction

The Marie Collins Foundation in partnership with the National Working Group have developed a new resource to support professionals with regards to how to respond when it is discovered that a child has been harmed online. Please see the CYSCP Tools page for more information. 


CYSCP provides online and face to face training for practitioners.

Call for vigilance after extremists found to be exploiting Covid-19 lockdowns to recruit young people online

North Yorkshire Police is calling on community partners, parents and carers to help raise awareness about the very real danger of young people being drawn into extremist ideology and terrorism.

Counter Terrorism Policing research, covering the first Coronavirus lockdown, confirmed that extremists have been actively using the pandemic to spread misleading and inflammatory information on social media and messaging applications.

It is believed this has been a concerted effort in a bid to recruit young people who were away from positive influences such as school and spending even more time than usual online.

While the second lockdown in England has seen schools and universities remain open, the stark warning is that the risk of young people being groomed by extremists has not been removed.

Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, North Yorkshire Police’s Head of Safeguarding, said: “In recent years there has been a very worrying and increasing trend of extremist material being spread online. There is no doubt whatsoever that the dangerous people behind such activity have used the Coronavirus pandemic to gain sympathy and support from vulnerable people who are spending a great deal of time on their own while online.

“Collectively, we need to be able to spot the signs in behaviour of our young people to ensure such extremists ideology does not take hold with tragic consequences.

“Not only do the police, education, local authorities and community safety partnerships have an important role to play, it also requires parents, friends and family to help us by acting early. They must talk to their children about what they view online and have the confidence to seek support if they fear someone they love and care about is in grave danger of being radicalised.

“We know that asking for help in such situations is a very difficult and emotional step to take, but it is absolutely necessary and could, ultimately, save their loved ones’ lives and prevent harm to many others.”

For help and advice please visit or call the national Police Prevent Advice Line on 0800 011 3764 in confidence.


The Children's Society Child Sexual Abuse Resources

As we return to a national lockdown the Prevention programme from The Children’s Society is concerned regarding it’s potential impact on the exploitation and abuse of children and young people.

During phase one of Covid-19 there was an increase in online grooming into both Child Sexual Abuse and Child Criminal Exploitation and an increase in domestic abuse. The Children's Socierty are also concerned that children experiencing abuse at home may have been shut in with their abusers and unable to access support.

These concerns have not gone away and as England returns to lockdown, The Children's Society have collated a range of resources and support contacts for professionals, parents, key workers and others both working with children or entering the family home at this time. Please circulate these as widely as possible through your networks.

The Prevention programme will continue to support partners in responding to child exploitation and abuse across England and Wales at this time. If you think you might benefit from the programme’s support please get in touch.

Prevention Programme Covid-19 Guidance for Partners

Responding to Child Sexual Abuse during Covid-19 - Covid Briefing

Exploitation online booklet

CSA & E A3 Poster

CSA & E External Poster

Project Alliance Exploitation Training Resources

Project Alliance have put together a list of training to expand your understanding of Child Exploitation. These are free to access, with focus on how Exploitation, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking can be present in the places you work or socialise.

These are free, online resources designed to fit around your schedule and cover a range of expertise from beginner to experienced, working with different forms of exploitation.

YorSexualHealth Services

Do you know what support and services are available from YorSexualHealth Services?

YorSexualHealth deliver sexual health services within York and North Yorkshire with face to face clinical care and virtual care. This is a free and confidential service for all ages.

Services include:

  • Online testing for over 16 year olds
  • Condom ordering online for over 16 year olds
  • Postal medication
  • Face to face clinical services including contraception and sexually transmitted infection management.]
  • Outreach care for vulnerable and at risk groups
  • Free and confidential counselling service for people of all ages living within York who wish to seek support around different aspects of sexual health
  • Treatment services for those who are HIV positive and well being support for carers and for HIV positive individuals via social support groups and 1:1 support.

Virtual appointments and text booking is now also available.

Further up to date information has recently been provided by YorSexualHealth and this is now available on the CYSCP website

Child Sexual Assault Assessment Service (“CSAAS”)

The CSAAS is delivered by Mountain Healthcare Ltd and provides crisis support and forensic medical services to collect any evidence for all children and young people aged 0 to 16 years who have disclosed sexual abuse or assault, or where it is suspected that it has happened. Older young people up to their 19th birthday may also be seen by the CSAAS if they have additional needs or it is deemed to be clinically appropriate.

What does the service offer?

The service offers:

  • Immediate professional advice and support
  • Specialist 1 to 1 Crisis Support
  • Forensic Medical Examination if appropriate to collect any forensic evidence
  • Non-forensic Medical Examination if appropriate
  • Onward referrals and/or liaison with other agencies and support services for aftercare such as sexual health, Independent Sexual Violence Advisers (ISVAs) and counselling services as appropriate.

How do I refer a child or young person?

When a child or young person attends the service, they will come with either a social worker or police officer and one or both of their parents/carers. Referrals can only be made from the police or children’s social care, and the service cannot see young people under the age of 16 without a social worker or the police being involved.

Where do I get support or advice from?

  • Advice available 24/7 via phone – 0330 223 1154
  • Acute Pathways (0-13 days) for C&YP aged 13yrs & over - clinics 7 days per week at Bridgehouse SARC in York
  • Acute Pathways (0-13 days) for C&YP aged 0-12 years - weekly clinic every Friday at Bridgehouse SARC in York; or optional clinics 7 days per week at the Hazlehurst Centre SARC in West Yorkshire
  • Non-Acute Pathways (14 days and over) for all C&YP – by appointment-only at weekly clinic every Friday at Bridgehouse SARC in York

The centre of expertise on child sexual abuse have produced a short film explaining the examination that takes place when there are concerns of child sexual abuse - Click here to watch the film.