Child Sexual Exploitation - CSE
Tackling child sexual exploitation is a top priority for West Yorkshire Police.
It is an abhorrent crime, and we are committed to tackling all forms of child sexual abuse and bringing offenders to justice, preventing offending and re-offending, protecting and safeguarding children and young people, and supporting all victims and survivors.
West Yorkshire Police has invested significantly in its safeguarding capabilities. Each of the Force’s five policing districts has its own dedicated inter-disciplinary child safeguarding team. These teams manage investigations and also work closely with multi-agency partners in child protection, including the NHS, local authorities, charities and schools.
Oversight and support for the most complex multi suspect CSE investigations is provided by the Force’s specialist Protective Services Crime department.
In partnership with local authorities and other organisations, the Force has developed a great deal of experience in investigating CSE and has brought a number of successful and highly publicised prosecutions in recent years.
- An investigation in Calderdale focusing on allegations of serious sexual abuse between 2006 and 2011 which saw 17 men jailed in 2016 for a combined 165 years following a series of trials.
- Twelve men sentenced in February 2016 to a total of 140 years in jail following an investigation in Bradford and Keighley.
- An investigation in Bradford which saw nine men jailed for a combined 132 years in 2019
- An investigation in Kirklees which led to 35 men receiving a total of 389 years in prison in a series of trials between 2017 and 2020.
- An investigation in Bradford saw eight men being jailed for 90 years earlier this year after being charged with a variety of sexual offences. The offences relate to one victim who was a child at the time in the Keighley area between 2008 and 2009.
West Yorkshire Police is continuing to undertake a number of major investigations into child sexual exploitation related offending with a number of cases due to go to trial.
Safeguarding work undertaken by the force in recent years has included schools engagement projects, collaborative work with charities and campaigns including Who Are You Really Talking To? and Know The Signs (see below), aimed at helping children and parents spot grooming activity.
Protecting children and putting the victim at the heart of everything we do is our primary focus, it is important for victims to tell us what has happened to them to give us a chance to put abusers behind bars.
West Yorkshire Police actively pursue all allegations of CSE regardless of the passage of time since an offence has occurred. We urge anyone who has been a victim of child sexual abuse to come forward; they will be listened to, taken seriously and treated with respect.
We want victims to be reassured that we do and will treat them with the utmost sensitivity, and that their needs and welfare are paramount.
What is child sexual exploitation?
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) 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.
How can we educate young people about the dangers?
A great deal of work has been ongoing to make young people aware of the dangers of Child Sexual Exploitation. This includes regular work from partner organisations within schools to make pupils aware of this offence and how to identify it. There have also been a number of educational events which specialist officers have attended. This preventative work compliments the proactive operations, resulting in significant custodial sentences.
Does technology make this offence more difficult to identify?
Although technology enables such offences to take place online through chat rooms and other mediums, it also leaves offenders open to being caught. We monitor these sites and where there is evidence of Child Sexual Exploitation, we can take action by seizing equipment such as computers and mobile phones. These strengthen the weight of evidence against the offenders.
From a preventative perspective, we also have nationally trained officers who work in schools to alert them to the online dangers and how to recognise the potential for grooming.
YouTube Video - Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson
Assistant Chief Constable Catherine Hankinson talks about West Yorkshire Police’s response to child sexual exploitation and abuse (recorded March 2019).
How can people recognise where sexual exploitation is taking place?
Child Sexual Exploitation - Know The Signs - The Campaign
The Force's 'Know the Signs' campaign aims to advise everyone across West Yorkshire of the typical signs of child sexual exploitation and what they should do if they know a young person who might be a victim.
The campaign is supported by Safeguarding Boards across the five districts of West Yorkshire and takes the form of impactive posters and advice cards, social networking messages and a hard-hitting radio advert.
Know The Signs
Even something that seems like normal teenage behaviour could be a sign that a child is being sexually exploited.
Some of the visible signs include:
- Regularly missing from home or school and staying out all night
- Change in behaviour – becoming aggressive and disruptive or quiet and withdrawn.
- Unexplained gifts or new possessions such as clothes, jewellery, mobile phones or money that can’t be accounted for.
- Increase in mobile phone use or secretive use
- Appearing to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Being picked up or dropped off in cars by unknown adults
- A significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or ‘friend’ or lots of new friends
- Spending excessive amount of time online and becoming increasingly secretive about time spent online
- Sudden involvement in criminal behaviour or increased offending
- Sexual health problems
Please see below for the campaign materials / downloads / audio files / video.
Jo was fourteen when she met Ash. They got on great. He bought her presents and said she was special.
It didn't matter he was a bit older. He said he loved her, Jo was happy. But then he started asking her to do things she didn't want to.
Jo was scared and alone. She told her mum, her mum told us, now Ash is in prison and Joe is getting her life back.
Child Sexual Exploitation is child rape. Know the signs. For more information, called 101 or visit westyorkshire.police.uk/CSE.
Radio Advert on AudioBoom
What can I do if I think a child is at risk?
If you have any concerns that a child you know may be a victim of Child Sexual Exploitation report it to West Yorkshire Police by calling 101 or you can call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. In an emergency or if a crime is ongoing always dial 999.
Contact our Contact Management Centre via our 101 Live Chat system.
Other charities and agencies that can help:
Information for children, adults or teachers on staying safe on the internet
Barnardo’s – Cut them free campaign.
National Helpline for male victims of sexual exploitation - 07808 863 662
Safety, information and support for women and young people.
The Children’s Society in Keighley and Bradford
The Hand in Hand Project
Supporting young people involved in child sexual exploitation or who are vulnerable to grooming.
Working with young people who are involved or vulnerable to CSE and who go missing from home
The Children’s Society in Calderdale
The Safe Hands Project
Supporting young people affected by Child Sexual Exploitation across the Calderdale district.
Tel: 01422 430 495
The Lucy Faithfull Foundation
A registered child protection charity which works across the UK to prevent child sexual abuse. It runs many projects, including Stop It Now! UK and Ireland and Parents Protect!
The latest toolkit from the Lucy Faithful Foundation:
The Marie Collins Foundation - www.mariecollinsfoundation.org.uk/
The Foundation ensure that the response to children and their families who have suffered harm via the internet and mobile technologies is based on sound, evidence based practice.
Find their latest booklet for parents on 'Sexual abuse online':
Saferlives - 0800 043 5987
Kayleigh’s Love Story
Video owned and produced by Leicestershire Police ©
Kayleigh's Love Story is a film about aspects of the last 13 days of the life of 15-year-old Kayleigh Haywood.
The Leicestershire schoolgirl was groomed online by Luke Harlow, a man she had never met, before being raped and murdered by his next door neighbour Stephen Beadman.
The film has been made to serve as a warning to children and adults of the dangers of grooming and sexual exploitation following Kayleigh’s tragic death in November 2015.
Read more on Leicestershire Police's website https://leics.police.uk/categories/kayleighs-love-story-film
Students Act To Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation
Performing Arts students from Airedale Academy in Castleford use their acting skills to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation.
West Yorkshire Police have worked alongside them to create videos revealing a victim’s perspective.
The Parent's View
"We thought she was going out with friends, but her attitude changed, her appearance started to change and she constantly had her mobile phone in her hand."
Just one of the anonymous accounts from a hard hitting video, featuring local parents whose children have been victims of child sexual exploitation (CSE)
It forms part of the ongoing West Yorkshire Police campaign entitled ‘Know the Signs’ which highlights the various indicators of the crime.
The Force has worked in partnership with local charity (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) Pace to record their experiences and raise awareness of the issues.
YouTube Video - "We went from a happy, easy going family, to absolute torment"
Parents talk about Child Sexual Exploitation - a sneak preview of a new video.
Video produced in partnership with PACE - Parents Against Child sexual Exploitation http://www.paceuk.info/
YouTube Video - Know The Signs
Page last updated October 2020