Child Sexual Exploitation

Dated: 20 May 2021

POLICY TITLE: Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) including Online Child Sexual Exploitation (OCSE)

OWNING DIRECTORATE: Crime and Safeguarding

AUTHOR: Detective Chief Inspector, Cyber, Crime Department



AIM OF POLICY: To ensure that Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) issues are addressed in a consistent and efficient manner, whilst all CSE complaints are dealt with in a timely and consistent manner that emphasises the wellbeing and safety of victims in accordance with the needs of the investigation.

BENEFIT OF POLICY: The application of this policy will ensure that CSE issues and complaints are dealt with efficiently and the victim and their family are cared for and supported in a sensitive and compassionate way.

REASON FOR POLICY: To promote understanding of Northumbria Police's role in the protection of children and young people with regard to CSE matters.

Sexual exploitation is child abuse and children and young people who become involved face huge risks to their physical, emotional and psychological health and wellbeing.

The nationally agreed National Police Chiefs' Council (NPCC) definition of CSE 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."

Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

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.

Northumbria Police will, with their partners, safeguard children and young people from sexual exploitation in accordance with the policies, procedures and guidance of the Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB). Safeguarding will always take priority over investigation requirements. In order to achieve this Northumbria Police will:

  • Identify those children and young people at risk of being sexually exploited.

  • Apply pro-active problem solving to address the risks associated with victims, perpetrators and locations and ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people who are or may be at risk from sexual exploitation.

  • Take action against those intent on abusing and exploiting children and young people in this way using police powers and assets alongside partnership disruption.

  • Provide awareness raising and preventative education for the welfare of children and young people who are or may be sexually exploited.

  • Provide timely and effective interventions with children and families to safeguard those vulnerable to sexual exploitation.

Online child sexual exploitation (OCSE) is a genre of internet offending which includes, but is not defined by, traditional notions of online grooming. In this context, OCSE includes the much broader threat from online communication with a child for the purposes of sexual exploitation and may include:

  • Indecent images of children (IIOC)

  • Risks associated with Webmail, social networking and file hosting

  • File sharing (peer to peer)

  • Self-generated indecent imagery (SGII)

  • Live video streaming

  • Publication of Private Sexual Images (Revenge Pornography)

  • Cyber Bullying

  • Cyber Stalking

Northumbria Police will adopt a 4 'P' approach.

We will:

1. apply pro-active tactics, environmental scanning and problem solving to address the risks associated with victims, perpetrators, locations and emerging risks to ensure the safeguarding and welfare of children and young people who are, or may be, at risk from sexual exploitation.

2. seek to disrupt and detect cyber predators.

3. use all legal powers to remove the means to commit cyber victimisation and other cyber crimes at the earliest opportunity in any live investigation, not just to preserve forensic evidence but also to maximise the impact of the cyber–deterrence.

4. work with LSCB partners to ensure that Victim Impact Statements are presented in every successful prosecution.

5. in the event of successful prosecution, seek forfeiture orders for all technology used in the commission of the offence.

6. highlight successful prosecutions and the real world consequences of cyber criminality wherever possible.
We will:

1. ensure any victims of reported OCSE receive appropriate support and advice to reduce the risk of repeat victimisation and receive ongoing support through local safeguarding arrangements.

2. maintain and expand our e-forensics internship programme to support e-forensic capacity, developing our workforce and building wider, stronger and resilient e-forensic and cyber crime partnerships.

3.use the Child Protection System for prioritisation of peer to peer IIOC file sharing cases.

We will:

1. deliver an e-safety communication strategy which provides an easily accessible and comprehensive reporting mechanism for all and key messages and advice designed to prevent people from becoming victims.

2. develop a culture of digital responsibility amongst minors and other digital natives.

3. highlight real world but anonymised examples of the vulnerabilities, risks and impacts of OCSE, but only in the context of appropriate advice on how to avoid such risks.

We will:

1. maintain quarterly governance meetings to track how e-safety and OCSE issues are being addressed, cases are being handled and deliver performance improvement.

2. implement an annual e-safety audit process for monitoring e-safety arrangements.

3. engage with key professional services at a national, regional and local level to ensure that our threat assessment remains current and our response proportionate.

4. develop a communication channel and partnership alert network to support e-safer communities where e-safety is embedded in everyone’s  policies, commissioning and planning activities, in order to prevent and appropriately respond to safeguarding matters.

SOURCE DOCUMENTS: Sexual Offences Act 2003, College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice



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