Raising awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation

Merseyside / March 16

Merseyside Police, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and our key partners are showing their support as part of National Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Awareness Day this weekend, Sunday 18 March.

The purpose of the day is to raise awareness of CSE and gather information by working alongside colleagues from partner agencies including the PCC, Catch 22 and local councils.

On Sunday, Merseyside Police will launch an updated version of the ‘Listen to My Story’ website, which aims to raise awareness of the signs and vulnerabilities of Child Sexual Exploitation while offering advice and support.

Within our communities, local policing hub officers will be paying extra attention to areas of concern in their neighbourhoods where young people congregate in the aim of raising awareness and gathering intelligence, and the force will also be supporting the NWG CSE campaign, a charitable network aimed specifically at tackling child sexual exploitation.

Over the course of the following week, Catch 22, a young people's charity which has been commissioned by the PCC, will be delivering a number of CSE Awareness group work sessions, lunch drop-ins and training sessions at colleges, schools, hotels and fast food restaurants across Merseyside, aimed at educating children, parents and professionals on the dangers of CSE.

Police and council staff will also be visiting a number schools , GP surgeries, NHS walk-in centres, sexual health clinics, hospitals and care homes throughout the week (Monday 19th – Friday 23rd)to engage with residents about the issue, highlighting the signs to look out for and where to report any concerns.

Communities are encouraged to learn about CSE and follow the work being done on National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness day by using the following hashtags on social media. #CSEDay18 #CE #CSE #ListenToMyStory and #MerseysidePolice.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner Jane Kennedy said: “National CSE Day is an important opportunity for us all to raise awareness of the damage that Child Sexual Exploitation causes and highlight the potential warning signs of this horrific crime so that everyone, particularly young people themselves, know what to look out for and how to keep themselves safe.

“Sadly we know that CSE can affect any young person, male or female and from all kinds of backgrounds, regardless of social class, sexual orientation, ethnicity or location. We also know that young victims may not recognise that they are being exploited and the term ‘CSE’ may mean nothing to them. That’s why it’s so important that people across Merseyside, from all walks of life and communities, are alert to the warning signs of CSE and know what to do if they fear a young person may be at risk, not just today but every day.”

Detective Superintendent Sue Coombs from the Protecting Vulnerable People Unit said: “Sexual exploitation exists in lots of different forms and it is not always obvious to the victim when it first starts happening. It’s a dreadful crime which can have a devastating impact on the lives of victims and their families, which is exactly why having something like National CSE Day to highlight the issue is so important.

“Every one of us has to play our part in putting a stop to the sexual exploitation of children and we all need to know the signs to look for, including if they are regularly missing school, appearing with unexplained gifts, having mood swings or becoming secretive about their use of social media.

“We all have a duty of care to protect young people from harm and I would encourage parents, grandparents, teachers, health professionals, social services and any other adults to take a little time to better educate themselves about child sexual exploitation and its devastating consequences.”




Listen to My Story website: (Please note: the updated version will be live from Sunday, 18 March)

More information on Merseyside Police work on CSE -

More information on PCC work on CSE -

Definition: Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual 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 sexual activity:-

(a) In exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and or 

(b) For the financial advantage or increased status of the perpetrator or facilitator.

The victim may have been sexually exploited even if the sexual activity appears consensual.

Child sexual exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology. The warning signs below are recognised as the most common indicators of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). A young person: 

  • displaying suspicious activity in ‘hot spots’
  • missing from home or care;
  • displaying physical injuries;
  • involved in drug or alcohol misuse;
  • involvement in offending; 
  • absent from school;
  • change in physical appearance;
  • estranged from his/her family;
  • who looks concerned or frightened in the company of adults;  
  • receiving gifts from unknown sources;
  • recruiting others into exploitative situations;
  • experiencing repeat sexually-transmitted infections, pregnancy and terminations;
  • poor mental health;
  • self-harming;
  • thoughts or attempts at suicide.

Concerns regarding young people and their use of taxis:

  • the behaviour of people travelling together especially if there are adults with young people;
  • regular males requesting taxis to and from locations and taking young people with them;
  • adults putting a young person who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs into a taxi; 
  • young people being picked up and taken to hotels, particularly at odd times of the day and night;
  • young people attempting to avoid paying fares in return for sexual favours;
  • concerns that a taxi fare is being paid for by an adult;
  • concerns about a young person’s conversation whilst in a taxi. ·
  • Protecting children is every adult’s responsibility and everyone has a role to play in raising awareness of CSE;
  • The reality is that any child or young person from any social or ethnic background can be exploited.
  • Boys and young men can be at risk as well as girls and young women. 

The National Child Sexual Exploitation Awareness Day aims to highlight the issues surrounding CSE; encouraging everyone to think, spot and speak out against abuse and adopt a zero tolerance to adults developing inappropriate relationships with children and children forming inappropriate sexual relationships with their peers.