Prepare ensures that effective systems, processes and cultures are in place across agencies, working in partnership to tackle and reduce the instances of Child Sexual Exploitation.
Child sexual exploitation, county lines and missing analytics
According to the National Crime Agency, a typical County Line scenario is defined by the following components:
- A group (not necessarily affiliated as a gang) establishing a network between an urban hub and county location, into which drugs (primarily heroin and crack cocaine) are supplied.
- A branded mobile phone line is established in the market, to which orders are placed by introduced customers, with the line commonly (but not exclusively) being controlled by a third party, away from the market.
- The group exploits young or vulnerable persons, to achieve the storage and/or supply of drugs, movement of cash proceeds and to secure the use of dwellings (as commonly referred to as ‘cuckooing’).
- The group, or individuals exploited by them, regularly travel between the urban hub and the county market, to replenish stock and deliver cash.
- The group is inclined to use violence or threats and weapons, including knives, corrosives and firearms.
Thus, the term ‘county lines’ broadly refers to the supply of illegal commodities to which is often facilitated by the exploitation of vulnerable children and adults.
Childlike sex doll guidance
During the project a new phenomenon was uncovered in relation to the importation from abroad of Childlike sex dolls being utilised by perpetrators.
Childlike sex dolls are predominantly female, although there have been reports of male childlike sex dolls being seized. The dolls are anatomically correct and can come in various shapes and sizes. They come with accessories, clothing and wigs. They are usually 3ft or 4ft in length and have childlike heads, and extremities. The dolls are evidently childlike in stature and appearance.
The response to importations of these dolls was mixed, so coordinators collaborated with the NCA to produce ‘Childlike Sex Doll’ guidance to support them in dealing with Childlike Sex Doll importations.
Childlike Sex Doll Guidance (You must be logged into Polka to see this content)
The production of the guidance undoubtedly improved the response, leading to a number of successful convictions, as outlined in media coverage in:
Childlike sex dolls represent a safeguarding risk to children, and the individuals who import childlike sex dolls need to be fully investigated. Any investigation needs to take into account the risk the individuals pose to all children, specifically any children within their family, any children they may come into contact with through their occupation or any perceived risk the individual may pose to the wider community.
CSE operations repository
In 2016 a major organisational risk was identified by Forces and ROCUs across England and Wales in relation to accurately recording the volume of CSE operations occurring in each region. Senior officers in charge of areas such as Firearms or Drugs were able to easily identify how many live operations there were in their force areas/regions, however, it was much harder for CSE leads to answer the same question with any degree of confidence.
CSE Social Media Library
One of the biggest threats facing policing today when tackling CSE, is the large scale of cyber-enabled abuse whereby victims are groomed and abused through the use of social media applications (apps) and websites. There are many websites that provide details of some apps that are of concern to parents, however there was no comprehensive list in existence for a policing purpose. As a result, the Social Media Library was created in January 2017.
Strategy discussion aide memoire
The strategy discussion aide memoire was produced by Becky Lewis (Barnardos Children Services Manager), Rachel Allen (Ringham, Child Sexual Exploitation Consultant), Rachel Ringham Ltd, working with Bath and North East Somerset Local Authority and Detective Inspector Larisa Hunt, the South West Regional CSE Coordinator in conjunction with professionals from health, education and the NWG (National Working Group).
The aide memoire is designed to help professionals consider ways to safeguard children who have been sexually exploited. The document is to be used in addition to existing local authority strategy discussion processes and it is primarily designed for use in sit-down strategy meetings.
The aide memoire can however also be used as a prompt for telephone strategy discussions. The document was produced to assist professionals in their decision making and planning with regards to CSE.
Threat assessments and problem profiles
In 2015 when the CSE analyst and coordinator network was first established, the regional analysts were tasked with the production of a Regional CSE Problem Profile. The profile was to present the nature, scale and threat of CSE across each region in an attempt to gain a better understanding of the CSE picture nationally.