Child sexual exploitation

CSE campaign leaflet front

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and / or coercion of young people under the age of 18 years into sexual activity. This is often in return for food, attention, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, somewhere to live or money. It can occur to any child or young person in the community. Perpetrators can be adults or peers (peer-on-peer abuse).  It can involve grooming or be opportunist. CSE occurs everywhere and all children and young people are vulnerable.

To protect and prevent this form of sexual abuse agencies must work together in partnership with families and young people to support the young person and to reduce risk. Please also watch these two videos about CSE:

Can you see it? and Can you stop it? (by NWG, Barnado's and Met Police)

Who is at risk?

Any child or young person may be at risk of sexual exploitation, regardless of their family background or other circumstances. This includes boys and young men as well as girls and young women. However, some groups of young people are particularly vulnerable.  These include:

  • children and young people who have a history of running away or of going missing from home and care
  • those with special needs
  • those in and leaving residential and foster care
  • children who have disengaged from education
  • children who are abusing drugs and alcohol
  • those involved in gangs and county lines (see also Home Office guidance on County lines)
  • those engaged in risky internet use
  • migrant children, including those who do not have a legal immigration status
  • unaccompanied asylum seeking children

Often the child or young person does not recognise the danger of the relationship and does not see themselves as a victim of exploitation, as they consider they have acted voluntarily. The reality is they have not consented and their behaviour is not voluntary. A child cannot consent to their own abuse.

Do you have a concern?

All professionals should use the CSE Risk Matrix to help identify and clarify their concerns. If you are concerned that a young person is being sexually exploited or is at risk of being exploited then you should make a referral to Children’s Social Care using the Multi Agency Referral Form (MARF) and send it together with the CSE Risk Matrix to the Integrated Referral Hub at:  or (secure email).

Please pass the CSE Campaign leaflet in Resources on to the parents/carers of any child you are concerned about.

Please ensure you password protect your referral if you can not use secure mail.

You can also call a duty social worker to discuss your concerns or contact the CSE Coordinator if you need further advice: 0207 926 8569

Young People at Risk (YPaR) Strategy and conference

The previous CSE strategy has been replaced with a more comprehensive Young People at Risk strategy which sets out the resolve for young people to be free from the risk of

  • CSE
  • Missing from home, care or education
  • Serious Youth Violence
  • Involvement with gangs and/ or County Lines
  • Radicalisation

It was launched at the YPAR conference in October 2017, please see the keynote speaker presentations below and a brief video from the conference:



Stop CSE-Say Something is a national helpline for children, young people and their parents and carers to call to get support and advice if they are concerned regarding possible sexual exploitation Free posters can be found at

The Pan London procedures for all professionals who have a concern that a child or young person is at risk of CSE can be found at Safeguarding Children from Sexual Exploitation

These London CP procedures should be read in conjunction with:

Other publications: