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Exploitation is a form of 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 any activity

  1. in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or
  2. for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator of facilitator and/or
  3. through violence or the threat of violence.

Specific types of exploitation includes:

  • Modern Slavery (including human trafficking)
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Criminal Exploitation
  • Financial Exploitation

The victim may still be exploited even if the activities that they are engaging in appear consensual.

Multiple types of exploitation can occur alongside or as part of other forms of abuse.
Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.


County lines’ is the police term used to describe gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns across the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines. These organised crime networks exploit children and young people to store, move, sell and deliver their drugs, often making them travel across counties.


Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that affects boys and girls of all backgrounds and from all communities, right across the UK. Children are most vulnerable to sexual exploitation between the ages of 13 and 15, but younger victims can also be targeted.


Modern slavery is the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of men, women or children using force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means in order to exploit them.


This is when professional criminals target a person’s home (often belonging to a vulnerable person) so that the property can be used for drug dealing (including county lines).

These properties – also called ‘trap houses’ or ‘safe houses’ – may be used for short periods of time before operations move elsewhere. During this time the person may experience intimidation, violence and abuse.


Radicalisation is when someone starts to believe or support extreme views, and in some cases, then participates in terrorist groups or acts. Anyone can be radicalised, but factors such as being easily influenced and impressionable make children and young people particularly vulnerable.

Virtual Briefings

Guidance, Procedures and Assessment Tools

Leaflets and Resources

For information and resources for working with children at risk of Sexual Abuse, please visit out Child Sexual Abuse page

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