Child Sexual Exploitation

What Is CSE?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of child abuse. It happens when a young person is encouraged, or forced, to take part in sexual activity in exchange for something. The reward might be presents, money, alcohol, or simply just the promise of love and affection.

It might seem like a normal friendship or relationship at the beginning, but the young person might be persuaded to do sexual things they don’t want to do in return for something.

The Home Office updated the definition of child sexual exploitation for England in 2017:

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.

What you can do:

  • Learn what child sexual exploitation is.
  • Understand how abusers could try and exploit your business or service for their abuse
  • Recognise the signs
  • Something Not Right – Download our information guide for licensed premises.

If your business operates under a licence, your licence is at risk if you do not take action to protect children. The law states that premises licence holders and supervisors have to make sure that children are protected from physical, psychological and moral harm at their premises.

Premises allowing in under-18s also need to have systems in place to safeguard children and young people. You must prove that you have used ‘due diligence’ to manage the risk of exploitation in your venue.

CSE: Something Not Right Licensing Guide

Child sexual exploitation and other forms of sexual abuse (CSAE) involving businesses such as taxi firms, hotels and fast-food outlets have received widespread public attention. As a result, Night Time Economy (NTE) has been a key area to focus CSE awareness and preventative activity.

Perpetrators of CSAE are known to target places and venues where children and young people go or use, to facilitate or commit abuse. Therefore it is extremely important that awareness, prevention and disruption methods are targeted.

CSE: Toolkit for Professionals

What Are The Possible Warning Indicators?

Sexual exploitation affects thousands of children and young people every year and professionals/ businesses play a vital role in identifying those at risk.

Abusers often make use of certain businesses and premises when carrying out child sexual exploitation. For example, they use places where people socialise and relax to befriend and ‘groom’ victims. By knowing the tell-tale signs, we can all play an important role in reducing that number.

  • Spending a long time in one area.
  • Seen out late at night, or when they should be at school.
  • Appears to be travelling long distances, or are out of their local area.
  • Is accessing places that are not age appropriate.
  • Is with an older person who doesn’t seem to be their parent or carer.
  • Is with an older person, or a group of older people.
  • They have been approached by someone unknown to them.
  • They are given gifts (including food, cigarettes, alcohol) or are offered a place to stay.
  • Other people are speaking on behalf of the young person when they are being directly spoken to.
  • They may be presenting with volatile or aggressive behaviour, or may be quiet, withdrawn, trying to hide or be secretive.
  • The child or young person may be presenting as anxious or distressed, dishevelled or tired.
  • The child or young person appears to be alone.
  • Physical signs of abuse i.e. bruising or injuries.
  • The child or young person appears to be under the influence of, or being given, alcohol or drugs.
  • Evidence of self-harm or low self-esteem.
  • Adults are frequently coming in to venues with different young people.

Reporting Concerns & Getting Support

If something’s not right – please speak to someone. Exploitation is never your fault, even if you went along with things at first. Abusers can be very clever in the way they manipulate young people.

Call police on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency)

More information can also be found on the Warwickshire CSE website.


Safe in Warwickshire’s Cyber Crime Advisors and Prevent Officer deliver the ‘Prevent Online Grooming’ training to parents, carers and youth professionals. This aims to support them in keeping their children and young people safe online. Further information about this training can be found under the ‘Training’ heading on Safe in Warwickshire Prevent page.

Warwickshire CSE‘s team offer FREE CSE training to all education, policing, health, youth & voluntary sector services across Warwickshire, as well as free training for hotels and licensed premises.