What to do
* Familiarise yourself with the signs and always consider the risk of sexual exploitation when working with young people and carrying out assessments. “If you can’t rule it out, rule it in,” advises Carlene Firmin, assistant director of Barnardo’s.
* Share warning signs with other agencies, including police, health and teachers, to build up a picture of the young person’s circumstances. This will help assess the risk.
* See your local safeguarding children board’s website to find local multi-agency information-sharing forums.
* If you are concerned a child or young person is at risk do not hesitate. Make a child protection referral and identify a specialist service they could be referred to.
* Listen to children and take their disclosures or difficult behaviour seriously.
* If another professional, such as a teacher or specialist project worker, tells you they are making a referral about a child who has been exploited, or is at risk, action it.
* Request more staff training in child sexual exploitation.
* Look for and pass on any other possible sources of evidence to police. Because such cases depend heavily on the evidence of children – who can be cross-examined by a multiple barristers in any one case – many cases can collapse during trial. Figures compiled by Barnardo’s show there were only 89 convictions for child sexual exploitation in England and Wales in 2009, although 2,756 children were known to have been sexually exploited.
Source: Barnardo’s and Safe and Sound Derby
Who to call
* Engage! Social workers have joined police, sexual health workers, NHS workers and the third sector to fight sexual exploitation in Blackburn with Darwen. Call: 01254 267 790
* Awaken, Blackpool: Social workers work with Lancashire police force in a co-located team to tackle sexual exploitation. They have achieved a 96.8% conviction rate. More information: 01253 607063
* Safe and Sound Derby A specialist charity committed to outreach work with sexually exploited children. It was praised in the Derby serious case review for helping to identify and support victims, and helping police to achieve convictions
* Barnardo’s has 22 specialist projects nationwide, including the highly regarded Secos (Sexual Exploitation of Children On the Streets) project in Stockton and Middlesborough. List of services
* Just Whistle provides bespoke training and seminars on sexual exploitation
* National Working Group for sexually exploited children and young people has a comprehensive list of research studies and articles on child sexual exploitation
* CEOP: The Child Exploitation and Online Protection centre works to prevent child sexual abuse and exploitation.
CROP UK-wide organisation specialising in working alongside the parents, carers and wider family of child sexual exploitation victims
Clare Lodge The UK’s only all-female secure children’s home for girls aged 10-17 and leading provider of “welfare” placements. Staff have expertise in working with sexually exploited young people.
Improve your practice
Community Care Inform has a range of expert-written practice guides on protecting children from sexual exploitation
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Sources: Barnardo’s and the National Working Group for sexually exploited children and young people