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Child Exploitation: Child Criminal Exploitation and Child Sexual Exploitation (CCE and CSE)

Page last updated: 27/03/2023

CCE and CSE are forms of abuse that occur where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance in power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child into taking part in criminal or sexual activity, in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or for the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator and/or through violence or the threat of violence. Child Exploitation can affect any child or young person, male or female, and can include children who have been moved (commonly referred to as trafficking) for the purpose of exploitation.

It is vital that partners work together to address CE and to ensure children and young people receive the right help at the right time.  

In this section:

  1. Definitions and examples of CCE and CSE
  2. Risk in the community
  3. Child Exploitation training and guidance
  4. Responding to suspected CCE/CSE
  5. Useful organisations

1. Definitions and Examples of CCE and CSE

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE): Some specific forms of CCE can include children being forced or manipulated into transporting drugs or money through county lines, working in cannabis factories, shoplifting, pickpocketing, vehicle crime or threatening/committing serious violence to others. Children can become trapped by this type of exploitation as perpetrators can threaten victims (and their families) with violence or entrap and coerce them into debt.  They may become involved in carrying weapons, either as a result of coercion, or as a perceived form of protection. As children (particularly older children), involved in criminal exploitation often commit crimes themselves, their vulnerability as victims is not always recognised.

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE): CSE is a form of child sexual abuse. It can occur over time, or be a one-off occurrence, and may happen without the child's immediate knowledge (for example, through others sharing videos or images of them on social media).​

2.  Risk in the Community

Risk in the Community is the Essex partnership approach to tackling exploitation of young people.  Young people can become victims of Sexual and Criminal Exploitation, sometimes they might be moved around the county or outside Essex, known as Trafficking and Modern Slavery.  Some young people might be exploited digitally and may not meet their abuser, or online exploitation may form part of the grooming process and occur before they meet.

​Further information on risk in the community and how to respond is available on the ESCB website / RIC


3. Child Exploitation Training and Guidance

The ESCB recommends that each organisation has a lead for child exploitation, which they refer to as the CE Champion. In education settings, it makes sense for the Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL) to take on this role as part of their safeguarding duties. The CE lead is a key contact for staff to go to for support and advice in relation to child exploitation and as a conduit between their organisation and the ESCB. Below are training opportunities and guidance documents to help the DSL fulfil this role.

4. Responding to Suspected Child Exploitation

If a DSL has concerns about CE/CSE, they should refer to and follow the child exploitation safeguarding arrangements and protocols set out by the ESCB. This includes using the SET Partnership Child Exploitation Pathway, an interactive guide which can help settings begin to make professional decisions related to the most appropriate course of action where concerns related to CE are present. It includes information on CE/CSE risk factors, flowcharts to guide the actions that should be taken by professionals and details on which agencies to refer to and how. 

5. Useful organisations 

  • ​​​Children at Risk of Exploitation (C.A.R.E.) – The Children's Society CARE service works with children, young people and adults aged 8-24 in Essex who are at a medium/high risk of criminal or sexual exploitation, or those that are actively being exploited.​

  • The Children's Society - a national charity who provide specialist child and family support to young people facing abuse, exploitation and neglect.

  • Barnardo's – a national charity to protect, support and nurture the UK's most vulnerable children, including helping children through the trauma of sexual abuse and exploitation.

  • NSPCC - advice and guidance to help spot the signs of CE and CCE and information on how to report concerns

  • Essex Violence and Vulnerability Unit has produced three lesson plans to raise awareness in Secondary schools on the dangers of County Lines and the ways young people can become involved. 

  • Sort your settings – Essex Police online safety campaign - A campaign aimed at parents and carers for raising awareness of online exploitation, as well as what they can do to reduce the risks around this

  • Essex Police - Cannabis Edibles page – Information on cannabis edibles and how to respond to the issue in Essex​