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Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Multi-agency working

This briefing paper is for child sexual exploitation (CSE) coordinators/lead professionals from any agency, and for those planning multi-agency approaches. It brings together key messages from research on CSE with implications for multiagency working and should be read in conjunction with guidance for professionals. Key messages:

  • Child sexual exploitation can happen to young people from all backgrounds. Whilst young women are the majority of victims, boys and young men are also exploited.
  • Some young people may be more vulnerable – those who have experienced prior abuse, are homeless, are misusing alcohol and drugs, have a disability, are in care, are out of education, have run away/ gone missing from home or care, or are gang-associated.
  • Supporting sexually exploited young people and disrupting perpetrators are complex processes that require appropriate interventions from a range of stakeholders.
  • Multi-agency approaches enable organisations to contribute their specific role whilst also developing shared perspectives and approaches to protecting young people.
  • Whatever the precise set-up of the multi-agency arrangement, the key factor is coordination.
  • When accompanied by multi-agency commitment to shared outcomes, advantages of close working arrangements include: sharing expertise; establishing shared expectations and approaches; facilitating information sharing to safeguard young people; sharing resources; and sharing intelligence to disrupt perpetrators.