Protecting children from criminal exploitation, human trafficking and modern slavery: an addendum

Children Services
Child Sexual Exploitation
Youth Justice
County Lines

Posted: 20 November 2018

This report is about the findings from three joint targeted area inspections, carried out in the spring of 2018 that examined ‘the multi-agency response to child exploitation and children missing from home, care or education’. It is an addendum to our 2016 report: ‘‘Time to listen’ – a joined up response to child sexual exploitation and missing children’. 

This report considers the most significant learning from three inspections of local authority areas with a focus on criminal exploitation of children. The inspections were carried out jointly by Ofsted, the Care Quality Commission, Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Probation. The inspections reviewed practice in children’s social care, education, health services, the police, youth offending services and probation services. 

The report recognises that much has been done by agencies to address child sexual exploitation, but it calls for agencies to learn the lessons of the past in responding to criminal exploitation of children and county lines. All children are vulnerable to exploitation, and agencies, locally and nationally, do not yet fully understand the scale or level of risk to children. Family-focused services are not always appropriate for dealing with the exploitation of children outside of a family setting – agencies need to be flexible and respond quickly to changing risks.  


  • Introduction 3
  • Background 4
  • Findings 7
  • Part 1: Protecting exploited children 8
  • All children are vulnerable to exploitation 8
  • Raising awareness 9
  • ‘Stay with’ children who do not want to engage 10
  • Seeing and ‘staying with’ the child 11
  • Part 2: Working in partnership 13
  • Working together in local partnerships 13
  • Using intelligence and information well to understand local risk 14
  • Working together strategically across regions 15
  • Training and information for professionals 16
  • Learning the lessons from the past 17
  • Working with the police to disrupt exploitation 18
  • Conclusion 19
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