What is Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)?

Child Criminal Exploitation, or CCE, is when individuals or gangs target children and young people and manipulate them to carry out criminal activity.

Studies show that a child is more at risk of being recruited if:

  • they’ve been excluded from school
  • they have special education needs
  • there are problems at home like neglect, domestic abuse or sexual abuse
  • they have problems with their mental health
  • they live in existing gang territory

Organised criminal gangs groom children and young people because they’re less suspicious and are given lighter sentences than adults.

Below are some signs to look out for if you are worried that someone you know is involved in CCE:

  • They start having amounts of money that they cannot account for e.g. no job, still in school so how can you have £100 in cash?
  • New clothing/shoes/gadgets that they either cannot explain or are given as gifts.
  • Start using and carrying drugs, or larger quantities of drugs.
  • They are always on a different bike
  • Unexplained injuries
  • Coming home dirty and not being able to explain it
  • They pay special attention to places and street names and may “know someone” in places you didn’t know they went
  • Mention people from different cities
  • A change in attitude or behaviour.
  • Carrying weapons
  • Going missing

What is Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)?


Sexual exploitation doesn’t just happen to girls and young women, it happens to boys and young men too.

Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of sexual, emotional and physical abuse of children. A child is sexually exploited when they are coerced into sexual activities by one or more person(s) who have deliberately targeted their youth and inexperience in order to exercise power over them. The process often involves a stage of ‘grooming’, in which the child might receive something (such as a mobile phone, clothes, drugs or alcohol, attention or affection) prior to, or as a result of, performing sexual activities, or having sexual activities performed on them.

Below are some signs for you to look out for if you are worried that your child is or has been sexually exploited:

  • He or she becomes especially secretive and stops engaging with their usual friends
  • They may be associating with, or develop a sexual relationship with older men and/or women
  • They may go missing from home and be defensive about their location and activities, often returning home late or staying out all night
  • They may receive odd calls and messages on their mobiles or social media pages from unknown, possibly much older associates from outside their normal social network
  • They may be in possession of new, expensive items which they couldn’t normally afford, such as mobile phones or jewellery
  • Look tired and/or unwell, and sleep at unusual hours
  • Have marks or scars on their body which they try to conceal

CSE perpetrators are very skilled in driving a wedge between you and your child, breaking the emotional bond between you.

The grooming process for Child Sexual Exploitation:
Grooming is usually a gradual process that is used by perpetrators to exploit children.

Initial contact: Contact may be direct or through their friends, siblings or neighbours. Many children disclose that the initial contact was made by someone they felt were like them. Perpetrators usually make the initial contact at home, school, shopping centres, taxi ranks and bus/train stations.

Befriending: The befriending stage involves the perpetrator/s using coercive and non-coercive seductive and deceptive behaviour. This is usually when the individual that the child has had initial contact with introduces the child to their older ‘friend’ or ‘family member’. The older individual then may show the child attention in the form of gifts, alcohol or drugs.

Exchange of favours: At this stage, the child is infatuated with the perpetrator and interprets their behaviour and actions as ‘love. They struggle to resist the coercion and deception that the perpetrator is displaying. As a result, the child is then expected to engage in sexual acts to either prove their love to the perpetrator or as ‘payment’ for the kindness they were shown in the befriending stage.

Control: When the child starts to express an unwillingness to engage in the sexual acts, the perpetrator will then begin to use threats. The perpetrator gains control of the child in a number of ways:

  • encouraging addiction to cigarettes, alcohol and drugs and making the child dependent on him to supply these
  • photographing the child performing sexual activities and threatening to publicise the images
  • showing the child weapons in the car or on the person and keeping the child under constant threat
  • using physical violence and threats against the child and the child’s family.

Exploitation: The perpetrator continues to sever the child’s link with their friends and family. This leads the child into a life of violence, exploitation and crime. Although some children are able to free themselves from their perpetrators, the whole experience, particularly when it is sustained over a long, can deeply change the child’s personality and affect their life prospects and chances.

This information has been shared from PACE (Parents against Child Exploitation). For more information on support for parents, please click the following link: https://paceuk.info/for-parents/

Useful Contacts

If you think your child is being exploited it’s important to know that you are not alone and not to blame. You should:

  • Report your concerns to our Early Help and Safeguarding Hub (EHaSH) on 01482 395500 or the NSPCC’s helpline on 0808 800 5000.
  • You can also report your concerns to Humberside Police using their non-emergency number on 101
  • If you feel your child is in immediate danger then call Humberside Police on 999.

Youth and Family Support, East Riding – eastriding.gov.uk

Help for Children and Young People 0800 1111 nspcc.or.uk

CEOP – Think you Know – thinkuknow.co.uk

Young People’s Sexual Health in Hull and the East Riding – wearecornerhouse.org

PACE – paceuk.info/for-parents/ For confidential help and advice, call Pace on 0113 240 5226 (for both sexual and criminal exploitation )