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Child sexual exploitation (CSE)

What is CSE?

The West Midlands Metropolitan Area has adopted the following definition of child sexual exploitation, taken from statutory guidance:

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under 18 involves exploitative situations, contexts and relationships where young people (or a third person or persons) receive ‘something’ (e.g. food, accommodation, drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, affection, gifts, money) as a result of them performing, and/or another or others performing on them, sexual activities. Child sexual exploitation can occur through the use of technology without the child’s immediate recognition; for example being persuaded to post sexual images on the Internet/mobile phones without immediate payment or gain. In all cases, those exploiting the child/young person have power over them by virtue of their age, gender, intellect, physical strength and/or economic or other resources. Violence, coercion and intimidation are common, involvement in exploitative relationships being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from their social/economic and/or emotional vulnerability.

Indicators of risk

Staff in schools should be vigilant to the signs that a child or young person may be at risk of child sexual exploitation (CSE). Young people with the following characteristics are likely to be at higher risk of sexual exploitation:

  • Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late
  • Regularly missing school or not taking part in education
  • Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions
  • Associating with other young people involved in exploitation
  • Having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • Suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • Uncharacteristic and significant mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
  • Use of mobile phone and internet that causes concern
  • Involved with or linked to gang activity
  • Dropped off/picked up by unfamiliar person/people

Taken from Solihull Local Safeguarding Children Board induction pack: CSE, human trafficking and runaways.

LSCB procedures for CSE

Child sexual exploitation is abuse and Solihull’s safeguarding procedures should be followed.

Identifying children / young people at risk and what to do if you are concerned

  • If there are serious concerns that a child or young person is at immediate risk, the police should be called on 999 and a referral to children’s social work services (Solihull’s multi-agency safeguarding hub, or MASH) should be made without delay.
  • If there are concerns that a child or young person is at risk of significant harm, follow procedures to refer to MASH.
  • Otherwise, complete the appropriate CSE Screening Tool (details below) and make a professional judgement as to the child/young person’s level of risk.

CSE screening tools

Concerns about immediate risk of harm for a child should be referred urgently to the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) and/or to the police.

Completing a screening tool at this stage could cause inappropriate delay.

We know that any child can be a victim of CSE. We also know that children can be targeted and abused at a young age, before adolescence.

  1. Where there are concerns about a particular child under the age of 12 that may relate to CSE, Solihull’s Petch Screening Tool should be completed. The screening tool identifies children early, under the age of 12, who may be at risk from CSE. It provides a framework for making a sound professional judgement about the level of vulnerability of the child to CSE, supporting early help and intervention. The Petch Screening Tool, for use in cases where the child is under the age of 12, can be found in the Practitioners’ Tool Box on the LSCB website.Important: actions following completion of the Petch Screening Tool for a child under the age of 12The response will be determined by the clear pathway set out within the screening tool guidance.Vulnerability to CSE that is beyond universal is always a concern for a child under-12 by virtue of their age.The CSE indicators in the screening tool are designated either amber or red, with red indicators presenting higher risk.
  • A completed screening tool with evidence against a significant number of solely amber indicators would be likely to lead to a professional judgement of the child being potentially vulnerable to CSE.
  • A completed screening tool with evidence against a combination of several red and amber indicators could lead to a professional judgement of either potentially vulnerable to CSE or vulnerable to CSE.
  • Where the completed screening tool provides clear evidence against one or more of the red ‘alert indicators’ that present a stronger indication of CSE risk (displayed as !), the child would always be deemed to be vulnerable to CSE.

A Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) referral should always be made for a child under the age of 12 who is deemed to be potentially vulnerable or vulnerable to CSE.

The MASH referral process will swiftly determine the next steps for professionals in safeguarding the child.

Solihull Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH): 0121 788 4333

  1. Where the child is 12 or over, the existing screening tool (for 12-17 year olds) should be completed.This regional screening tool has been developed to enable the identification of children and young people at risk of sexual exploitation. Where the school or education provider has identified that there are or may be potential concerns about a child or young person aged 12 and over, but under the age of 18, the screening tool should be completed to determine any level of risk. The screening tool and guidance on how to complete it, using professional judgement, is available on the LSCB website.This can also be accessed via the Practitioner’s Tool Box; please click on children 12 and over in the CSE section.Important: actions following completion of the screening tool for 12-17 year olds
  • Screening tool level 2 or 3 outcome: follow procedures to refer swiftly to MASH, including the completed screening tool with the MASH referral.
  • Screening tool level 1 outcome: advise CSE Team so the child/young person’s details can be logged and risk level tracked. Address risks at an early help level:
  • Devise intervention to address specific risks highlighted in the screening tool
  • Carry out the planned work advising colleagues and the CSE team if any changes are needed to the original plan
  • Regularly re-screen the child/young person’s risks, escalating to MASH if the level of risk increases.

Screening outcome: no risks identified. No action required in relation to CSE, but any other concerns raised will need to be followed up swiftly in order to safeguard the child / young person.

Support in completing either screening tool can be accessed from Solihull’s dedicated CSE team within Engage (Early Help):  0121 709 7000. Following completion, all screening tools should be submitted to the CSE Officer,

Children’s Social Work Services:
MASH:  0121 788 4333 or
Emergency Duty Team (EDT) (out of hours): 0121 605 6060

Central Referral Unit:  03451135000
Emergency:  999

What can the schools and education providers do to prevent grooming and CSE?

Curriculum (universal provision through planned PSHE)

The school’s PSHE curriculum should:

  • Have a strong focus on healthy and safe relationships, both offline and online
  • Include a well-planned, age-appropriate programme of relationships and sex education learning that empowers pupils to recognise and manage risk and to keep themselves safe
  • Have a clear focus on bullying being unacceptable. Bullying, like CSE, is underpinned by power, control, manipulation and coercion
  • Enable all pupils to learn about keeping safe wherever and whenever they go online
  • Include a focus on getting help, including talking to a range of trusted adults.

Solihull’s health and wellbeing in schools website has a dedicated CSE page.

From this page, schools can access Solihull’s ‘Healthy and Safe Relationships’ preventative resource. This unit of learning is aimed at secondary schools, pupil referral units and colleges and is designed to be embedded within a planned PSHE programme of learning for all pupils.

Other curriculum resources and support:

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre’s (CEOP) film ‘Exploited’ and the accompanying resource aims to help young people, aged 12 and over, to stay safe from sexual exploitation by recognising the signs. It contrasts an exploitative relationship with the development of a healthy relationship giving educators scenarios to explore in discussions with young people. The resource provides clear information about how to report abuse and access support. Register for free access to ‘Exploited’ and other educational resources, from CEOP’s Thinkuknow programme. CEOP’s educational materials can help to empower and protect young people from the harm of sexual abuse and exploitation, both online and off.

Involving other agencies and signposting

Reporting a concern in Solihull:

Solihull – or call 0121 788 4333
Available help, advice and support is summarised on the regional ‘See me, Hear me’ website.

Consider submitting a police intelligence form if you have any information regarding a young person that you think may be being groomed.

Updates and changes


These pages are updated regularly and should be used as the main source of information.  Printed versions should be used with care as they can become out of date.