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Perpetrators

Identifying and prosecuting perpetrators

Identifying, disrupting and prosecuting perpetrators must be a key part of work to safeguard children and young people from CSE. While the police and criminal justice agencies lead on this aspect of work, the support of other partners, for example in recording information and gathering and preserving evidence is also vital. Identifying and prosecuting the perpetrators should be a key consideration of all agencies working to address the issue of CSE locally. But any work to identify and prosecute perpetrators should not put children and young people at any further risk of harm.

Linking prosecutions to the provision of support

Local areas need to adopt a three-pronged approach to dealing with CSE, including prevention, providing support and protection for young people and prosecuting offenders. These areas of work should not be undertaken in isolation. Work to identify and address the risk factors that make young people vulnerable to CSE and the provision of support and protection will enable agencies to gain the trust and confidence of the young person, in many cases so that they can be part of the work to tackle the exploitation itself. Specialist agencies, particularly those that are non-statutory, that work with victims of CSE will most frequently be in this position and it is vital that where a young person wants, and is able to be a part of a prosecution, the agency is able to support them through the process and post conviction.

Disrupting perpetrator behaviour

Disrupting perpetrator behaviours should be viewed as an important part of local work to tackle CSE. Whilst there should always be a proactive investigation aiming for successful prosecutions, a disruption plan targeting suspected perpetrators can be extremely beneficial.

CSE network meetings

The CSE (Intelligence and Response) Network is a multi-agency operational process for the Avon and Somerset police force area with the objectives of identifying and effectively responding to:

  • Groups and gangs targeting children for sexual exploitation that may be operating across LSCB area boundaries
  • Networks of vulnerable children being targeted for sexual exploitation across LSCB area boundaries
  • Organisations and premises/locations providing opportunities to those who would target children for sexual exploitation

Perpetrators will be considered when there is a need for additional multi-agency focus because there is evidence to suggest that:

  • More than one suspect is targeting a child/children for CSE
  • More than one child is being targeted for CSE
  • An organisation is facilitating or enabling the perpetration of CSE
  • There is evidence that a location is being used to facilitate or enable the perpetration of CSE with potential or actual victims and/or perpetrators attending the location
  • Any other case in which there is agreement between a member of staff at position equivalent to children’s social care service manager and police inspector agree that there is a need to refer

CSE network meetings are held to ensure that in complex cases, the necessary links are identified and that responses are appropriately coordinated both across the organisations involved and relevant geographic areas. Meetings take place every eight weeks and will be arranged and chaired by Avon and Somerset constabulary. Children’s social care and the commissioned specialist service attend these meetings. Representatives from any agency can refer in for a network meeting (although in reality referrals are likely to be from the specialist commissioned service, social care, YOT or the police). The minimum criteria will be that there is a need for additional multi-agency focus because there is evidence to suggest that:

  • More than one suspect is targeting a child/children for CSE
  • More than one child is being targeted for CSE
  • An organisation is facilitating or enabling the perpetration of CSE
  • There is evidence that a location is being used to facilitate or enable the perpetration of CSE with potential or actual victims and/or perpetrators attending the location
  • Any other case in which there is agreement between a member of staff at position equivalent to Children’s Social Care Service Manager and police Inspector agree that there is a need to refer

Responding to young people that are perpetrators of CSE

Peer-on-peer abuse

When a young person is exploited by their peer(s), the abuser is the same age, or close in age to them. At the very least, everyone directly involved in the abuse is under 18 years of age. In peer-on-peer exploitation, schools and youth clubs are also locations where children and young people can be exploited. When the perpetrator of CSE is under the age of 18, a strategy discussion must be convened which considers their safeguarding needs. An assessment needs to be undertaken to consider their needs so that the cycle of abuse can be stopped.