Exploitation and abuse of children, young people and adults in this way is not new, but national research and local experience has illustrated that the traditional responses and child protection system is inadequate and inappropriate for safeguarding those whose experience of exploitation and abuse is extra-familial.
This presents a challenge to all partner agencies and requires a system change to better safeguard this group of children and young people and to support our front-line staff to implement new approaches. It also requires effective partnership with services that are not traditionally linked to child protection, including housing, community safety and environmental services.
All agencies across Cheshire East are fully committed to safeguarding children and young people from being exploited and contextual safeguarding is a CE SCP priority for the next 3 years. A Contextual Safeguarding Strategy has been developed.
What is it?
- The exploitation and abuse of children, young people and adults where the exploitation comes from outside the home.
- It includes child sexual exploitation, missing children, gangs, county lines, radicalisation, modern slavery and all forms of criminal exploitation. There are clear links across these areas and it is vital that people, whether professionals or members of the public, know what to look out for and how to respond.
- It recognises that the different relationships that young people and vulnerable adults form in their neighbourhood, schools and online can feature violence and abuse.
These risks are a safeguarding issue but need us to work with the young people as partners in their own safeguarding. For this reason, although young people involved in contextual safeguarding can be both victims and perpetrators, we will respond to them first through a child welfare model rather than criminal justice.
Harm and the effects of it do not end abruptly at 18, but support and intervention can, this strategy and the approach it sets out includes young adults at risk to the age of 25 after that point, adult facing services will consider their ongoing role and the longer term support and plan what they may need to have in place, in line with their criteria.
There are specific risks and vulnerabilities faced by children and young people who have Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) and this is reflected in the scope for the strategy.
Why it is important?
The risk for children, young people and adults can range from being denied the opportunity to make their own decisions, being in debt, threatened, coercion to commit criminal acts including violence and abuse, to becoming victims of violence including serious injury, rape and death.
For children, young people and adults affected by contextual exploitation and abuse they will have experienced trauma and may be in a state of hyperarousal. This will impact on them in a number of ways, including their:
- Emotional, physical and mental well-being
- Behaviour - Involvement in offending, going missing, use of alcohol, drugs, etc.
- Family relationships adversely affected
- Ability to access education and other services adversely affected
- Willingness to trust and engage with adults reduced
What will help?
- CE SCP has agreed a Strategy with practice guidance that includes tools for practitioners to use.
- It is expected that all agencies support a referral to CSC with a screening tool (MS Word, 132KB) and all children where there is identified risk will have a completed assessment tool (MS Word, 394KB) to ensure you understand the risk and the impact of constrained choice
- Report the concerns and share the information.
What do I do now?
Where child exploitation, or the risk of it, is suspected, frontline practitioners should use the Contextual Safeguarding Pathway (PDF, 278KB) and accompanying screening(MS Word, 132KB) and assessment(MS Word, 394KB) tools.
Whilst understanding and responding to the risk has different elements for this group of young people, our responsibilities to safeguard them have not changed and we should always follow child protection procedures.
Cheshire East Contextual Safeguarding Strategy (MS WORD, 4.12MB)
Contextual Safeguarding Strategy 7 Minute Brief (PDF, 450KB)