Child Sexual Exploitation is recognised as a threat of national importance.
In 2015, then Home Secretary Theresa May included Child Sexual Abuse (CSA) and Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) within the Strategic Policing Requirement. This put them in the category of Terrorism, Serious and Organised Crime, the threat of a national cyber incident, and threats to public order and and safety, and civil emergencies.
In 2017, the National Crime Agency issued its National Strategic Assessment of Serious and Organised Crime. Child Sexual Exploitation & Abuse was rated among its top threats:
- Child Sexual Exploitation & Abuse (CSEA)
- Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking (MSHT)
- Organised Immigration Crime (OIC)
- Money Laundering
- Cyber Crime
Mrs May explained that whilst child sexual abuse is not a threat to national security, it is a ‘threat of national importance’. Its potential magnitude and impact necessitated a cohesive, consistent, national effort to ensure police and partners can safeguard children from harm.
Responsibility for planning and preparing to address threats within the Strategic Policing Requirement lies with Police and Crime Commissioners, and Chief Constables.
March 18th each year is marked as Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day
CSE in the Thames Valley
In his Police & Crime Plan for the Thames Valley 2017-2021, the Thames Valley Police & Crime Commissioner noted: “Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) has dominated the headlines in recent years. The cases of Rotherham, Rochdale and Oxford highlighted failures to protect children at risk and, together with media coverage of high profile cases involving well-known celebrities, have contributed to an unprecedented rise in reporting. In Thames Valley a 67% rise in crime recorded as CSE took place in 2015/16, and many of the victims were already known to authorities as frequently missing young persons. Disturbingly, a report produced by the Children’s Commissioner estimated that just 1 in 8 victims of sexual abuse ever come to the attention of statutory agencies.”
In Chiltern Community Forum’s February 2019 crime priorities survey, Child Sexual Exploitation was nominated as a concern by 13% of respondents in both the main survey and the youth survey, enough to show that it is certainly a concern within our Chiltern community. That it was not taken forward as a ‘top 3’ priority reflected in part that it is already a national and force-wide priority.
One of the very depressing knock-on effects of the COVID-19 lockdown was that it proved fertile ground for online grooming and coercion. The Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) works to remove child abuse material from the Internet. It reported that in the 11 weeks following lockdown on March 23rd 2020, reports of child abuse images online increased by almost 50%. Huge increases in people, adults and children, at home and spending more time online, had proved a fertile breeding ground. The fastest growing category of images being removed by the IWF in recent years has been those generated by children after grooming or coercion.
If you are concerned about a child/young person in Buckinghamshire, you can call Buckinghamshire County Council’s First Response Team on 01296 383962 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you suspect someone is in immediate danger, Thames Valley Police recommends that you call 999 immediately. For less urgent reports, various ways are set out on Thames Valley Police: How to report possible child abuse
Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre – how to make a report to one of CEOP’s Child Protection Advisors
Internet Watch Foundation (IWF): working to eliminate child sexual abuse imagery online. Report child sexual abuse content anonymously and confidentially.
Thames Valley Police: Child Sexual Exploitation. Includes a list of common warning signs of a child or young person being in an exploitative relationship.
Thinkuknow, the education programme from National Crime Agency’s CEOP, which is dedicated to tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse, online and offline. Its website is divided into six sections, offering advice and information for different age groups and parents/carers.
Do you want to have advice to assist you when dealing with your children's use of the internet@TheParentsZone has a wealth of information and advice, all supported by our Policing colleagues @CEOPUK and @NCA_UKhttps://t.co/vElu0uXdQ5#CyberProtect#tell2#share pic.twitter.com/AlGQacSRUy
— TVP Cyber and Fraud (@TVPCyber_Fraud) August 29, 2019
There are many videos and other resources available, but here are four covering a spread of ages and situations:
Jessie & Friends: online safety education for 4-7s: a series of three animations aims to give 4-7 year olds knowledge, skills and confidence to help them respond safely to risks they may encounter online.
Childline: how to spot the signs of online grooming and what to do if you’re worried
The Story Of Jay: shows how Jay groomed and sexually exploited his girlfriend by giving her gifts such as alcohol and drugs (also featured on Chiltern District Council website).
Ellie’s Story – a powerful story of online grooming…
“You don’t have to do anything anyone online tells you – whether you know them or not”
— Thames Valley Police (@ThamesVP) March 18, 2019