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Key messages from research on child sexual exploitation: Police

This briefing paper is for police officers. It brings together key messages from research on child sexual exploitation (CSE) and highlights implications for practice. It should be read in conjunction with guidance for professionals on tackling CSE.

Key messages

  • Exploitation can happen to young people from all backgrounds. Whilst young women are the majority of victims, boys and young men are also exploited.
  • Only a minority of sexually exploited young people approach the police directly.
  • A proactive and intelligence-led approach to identifying victims and perpetrators is required.
  • Relationships with young people need to be built on care and respect and recognition of the impacts of abuse.
  • Young people require intensive support. Not only does this improve outcomes for them but also for criminal justice. Police should have close links with agencies that can provide this.
  • Civil as well as criminal measures can be used to disrupt perpetrators.
  • Awareness-raising in schools and youth projects can help police build positive relationships with young people, increasing their confidence to report concerns.