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Luton Borough Council

Child sexual exploitation

We are committed to preventing the sexual exploitation of children and young people and intervening to protect and support victims.

It is recognised that the most effective way to tackle this abuse is through local authorities and different agencies working together.
Tackling the sexual abuse of children and young people is a key strategic priority for Luton Safeguarding Children Board working with local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs) across Bedfordshire together with Bedfordshire Police and other partners.

The sexual abuse of children through exploitation is largely a hidden form of abuse. Fortunately, recent high profile cases are helping to raise awareness of this crime.

Trevor Holden, Chief Executive, said: “Let’s be very clear. Sexual exploitation is one of grave criminality.

“We want to give out a strong message that it will not be tolerated in Luton and our aim is to make it as difficult as humanly possible for anyone to exploit vulnerable children, young people and adults in our borough.”

In conjunction with key partners we are currently reviewing policy, best practice and resources across the town. 

During 2014, it was a mandatory requirement for all our employees to undertake safeguarding training so that they are aware of their child protection responsibilities and the policies and procedures to be followed if they have concerns about a child or young person’s safety or welfare.

Child sexual exploitation definition

“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 (CSE) 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.”
(DfE 2014)

Tell- tale signs to look for

There are a number of tell-tale signs that a child or young person may be being groomed for sexual exploitation, including that they are:
  • regularly miss school or not taking part in education
  • staying out at nights, regularly return home late and/or returns home after long intervals and appears well cared for. Defensive about where they have been and what they’ve been doing
  • appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions, money, mobile phones, clothes, jewellery, etc
  • suffering from sexually transmitted infections
  • displaying mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing, use of language, their physical appearance
  • displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour
  • secretive or withdrawn. Look tired or ill, sleeping during the day
  • associating with older men and develop a relationship of a sexual nature with a significantly older man or a woman
  • using drugs and alcohol
  • receiving more phone calls or text messages than usual
  • showing marks or scars on their body which they try to conceal by refusing to undress or uncover parts of their body
  • exhibiting self harming behaviour or suicidal tendencies

Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day

Wednesday 18 March was Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day, a national campaign to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse.
To mark this day, The International Centre: Researching Child Sexual Exploitation, Violence and Trafficking at the University of Bedfordshire released a series of short and easily accessible films that highlight key messages from research and learning on CSE.
They are for all those concerned with safeguarding children and young people at risk of and affected by CSE.
Click here to view these videos.

Report it!

If you are a victim of abuse or if you have concerns about the safety and welfare of a child or young person, don’t keep it to yourself.

Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)

Telephone: 01582 547653
Out of hours: 0300 3008123
Emergency: 999
Email: [email protected]

Safeguarding Unit (Bedfordshire Police) - 01234 846960 or in an emergency dial 999
For further advice and information about CSE, visit the Luton Safeguarding Children Board website, here you will find helpful resources, including:
  • how to report abuse
  • information for professionals, parents, children and young people
  • useful resources such as leaflets on the subject and links to related websites
  • information on a free e-course for parents, carers and others interested in learning more about child sexual exploitation


© 2024 Luton Council, Town Hall, Luton LU1 2BQ