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Child Exploitation


This section provides information to those working to safeguard children who are abused and neglected by adults and/or other children for the purposes of exploitation.  Exploitation of children by other children can also be referred to as peer on peer abuse. Sexual exploitation by peers is also discussed under harmful sexual behaviour.


Exploitation includes sexual, criminal (including county lines), modern slavery and online.  Criminal exploitation is however broader than county lines and includes children coerced or manipulated into criminal activity such as involvement in cannabis farms or theft.  Also, children who are exploited usually do not recognise the coercive nature of the relationship or see themselves as a victim. 


Parents/carers of children who are exploited can also be secondary victims of exploitation as they may be unable to safeguard their children from exploitation but feel scrutinised by professionals. Exploitation can become a barrier in the relationship they have with their children.  This can be referred to as extra-familial abuse.


The SET Procedures outline the identification, impact and professional responses to Child Exploitation in Essex.  Professional responses to child exploitation in SET Procedures should always be read in conjunction with the latest updated ‘Working Together to Safeguard Children’ guidance.


The SET Child Exploitation Screening Framework provides local pathway guidance for professionals to identify key child exploitation risk factors present for the child and what further support services are available.  This includes when and how to make a Request for Support via the Children and Families Hub (this function is due to be launched in September 2020). Information on suspected child exploitation activity should also be shared with the Police Operations Centre Triage Team using this form (n.b this doesn't replace normal referral/reporting system and is mainly for the dissemination of intelligence rather than crime reporting).


Appropriate Language: Child Sexual and/or Criminal Exploitation Guidance for Professionals. This document provides professionals with guidance on appropriate language in reports when describing Child Exploitation. Language is crucial to understanding the abuse dynamics in Child Exploitation and for young people to not feel blamed or judged, and to build a trusting relationship with young people at risk of exploitation.


ESCB CE & Missing Sub-Committee


The ESCB CE & Missing Sub-Committee reports directly to the Essex Safeguarding Children Board and oversees the statutory and non-statutory functions of local agencies regarding their responses to all forms of child exploitation and children that go missing within Essex. This includes being responsible for writing, reviewing and overseeing an Essex multi-disciplinary CE & Missing Action Plan.  The group meets quarterly and provides a minimum of yearly reporting to the Board. Core membership of the Sub-Committee is ECC Social Care Children & Families, ECC Adult Social Care, Essex Police, Youth Offending Service, Health, Education, The Children’s Society, Youth Service, Essex Council for Voluntary Youth Services, Community Safety Partnerships and National Probation Service. 


Partner agencies can access basic awareness e-learning training via the ESCB website free of charge to develop their understanding of child exploitation.