CSE and Exploitation Teams Structure

The below queries were sent in for views from police force exploitation leads:

As the lead for Sexual Exploitation in our force, I am very conscious that we are dealing with exploitation in isolation. I see the merit of an umbrella of exploitation, with the key strands all being investigated/safeguarded under one team. The obvious challenge being the demand that it would inevitably bring.

 1 – How are other forces now evolving their exploitation teams? I believe that other forces and joining teams up, with Criminal Exploitation, Sexual Exploitation and County Lines all being under one-line management, with the various strands being centrally managed, and investigated.

 2 – Do other forces have any plans to merge teams as per the above in the future? Has anybody got any business cases/proposals that they have completed that they are willing to share?

 One force area responded with the following:

The force central Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) Team was disbanded and responsibility for all things Child Exploitation (including CSE) devolved to divisional Missing and Child Exploitation Teams.

The theory behind this being that the MCETs (Missing Criminal Exploitation Team) are linking in with our young missing people and have built up good rapports with them. This has been positive from the point of view that the young people have made disclosures based on positive professional relationships that have been built up over long periods of time.

The return home interviews are proving effective in providing intelligence and building up knowledge of networks and associations so we can identify and establish the risk levels fairly early on.

The areas of improvement identified are the accurate recording of intelligence from COMPACT (missing persons system) to Athena (intelligence system), struggles around resourcing to deal with disclosures and the relationships that our internal teams have. We are encouraging MCETs to build relationships with several teams to help build the wider picture and identify proactive opportunities.

Centrally the strategy is owned by our Children and Young People Manager.

There is a Missing and Child Exploitation Coordinator to help with disseminating national and force wide best practice,

There is a CSE Trainer who now also trains Child Exploitation in its wider sense – this is to both internal officers and staff and external partners.

We all share the same concerns that CSE may become slightly diluted when looking at wider Child Exploitation so are working hard to continue pushing CSE to the forefront of policing.

Another force area’s response was:

 The force currently has two teams CSE and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE), they are one team but remain separated physically by offices and workloads. There are two sergeants posted to the teams and are looking to amalgamate the teams in the near future.

The CCE team is still relatively new and as such those of more experienced DCs in the CSE Team deal with the CCE/County Lines overlap investigations.

Another force area’s response was:

MOSOVO (management of sexual or violent offenders), CSE and Missing are separate to CCE, however there are close links with OCG (organised crime group) and CCE teams.

One force area’s response was:

In our force we brought the Safeguarding aspect of Criminal Exploitation into the CSE team back in January 2019. We deal with all aspects of high risk CSE (investigations and safeguarding) whilst our Neighbourhood Safeguarding Teams on division manage medium risk. This is the same for Criminal Exploitation but only with regards to the safeguarding considerations.

We have separate MDS (modern day slavery) , OCG and CL (county lines) disruption teams that we try to work closely with, but we are aware of some gaps around the deeper investigations into the County Line etc.. and we are working as a force on how we can improve this aspect. There are no plans at this stage to merge any teams.

One force area’s response was:

In our area we have a team of 2.  We class ourselves as an exploitation team, so deal with risk management, multi-agency meetings, we manage CSE risks and also children and young people who are criminally exploited mainly through drugs and some of those linked with county lines.  County lines is dealt with by the proactive team in the station, but we keep in good communication about arrests or children of concern.

Another force area’s response was:

Our area within the force has one team that is looking at Child exploitation and include both CSE and CCE (Including County Lines), that sit within Safeguarding. The processes are still under development, but we are looking to mirror our previous role with CSE and will work with partners to identify and reduce risk to young people.

Once an investigation is identified, it is then reviewed and allocated to the most appropriate department.

We may pick up those investigations that include our young people in “minor” cases but will require the support of other teams when we look at cross border offences, travelling criminals or OCG’s.

The force is looking to replicate this across the whole force area.

Another force area’s response was:

In our force we have adopted an umbrella complex safeguarding approach. The 10 districts within force are at different stages of implementation.

There are however local variants on how this has been / is being implemented across the 10 districts, and this is recognised as being wholly appropriate as the demand of the different exploitation types varies across the force and the local areas require the flexibility to allocate resource as applicable.

Longstanding responses within the force are:

  • Phoenix for CSE
  • Challenger for Organised Crime
  • With a Modern Slavery Coordination Unit centrally ensuring districts respond to Modern Slavery appropriately/ monitor NRM etc.

It was originally unclear where CCE fell within that in terms of responsibility, as there were overlaps with both CSE and organised Crime.

There are generally two models that areas are implementing:

  • CSE Response – CCE Response – Challenger – being co-located and under the same DI supervision working cooperatively and having partners such as social care working across the strands. (The thought behind this model is to ensure no strand is overlooked/ overwhelmed).


  • Exploitation Team looking at CSE and CCE – Challenger – again ideally being co-located.

Generally speaking, teams have sought/ are seeking a growth in resource to respond.

Currently, Modern Slavery such as labour exploitation/ domestic servitude is more likely to be investigated by CID with the support of Modern Slavery Tactical Advisors.

Cuckooing etc. is likely to be investigated by the complex safeguarding response.

One force area’s response was:

I currently manage the ‘exploitation team’ in force underneath which sits Child Sexual Exploitation, Modern Slavery (which includes adults) and I am next year getting an uplift in staff to take on child criminal exploitation so it will all be under one exploitation umbrella.

We work in a co located multi agency hub with partner from social services and health.  We are by no means perfect but the impression that I get is that we are much more developed than other forces.

Another force area’s response was:

We have recently (August) increased the number of officers on our CSE team to 7 and are now dealing with all forms of exploitation against children, in reality this means we are now looking at sexual and drugs.

I have also encouraged the missing person coordinator to base themselves within the team, he now works from our office two days a week.

The LA have also increased their exploitation team numbers and have recruited two additional youth workers and a Senior Social Worker in order to also deal with all forms of exploitation.

As you can appreciate this initial increase is still new and we are still in the process of trying to understand the nature and scope of the problem in our area, outside of sexual exploitation.

My initial observation is that this team will continue to expand in order to manage the anticipated workload, this is only in relation to those children who reside in our police area, including those placed here by another LA.

We still have a separate County Lines team within our proactive unit with a different line management team to the CE team.  They will deal with those children trafficked into our area when identified.

Personally, I can see the merit in both adult and child exploitation teams being merged along with missing person investigations as there is such crossover into all areas.

 Another response received from a County Lines national lead was:

This is a huge contentious issue at the moment.

With the drive to recognise CCE and bring it to parity with CSE for Investigations, safeguarding and case management creates extra demand.

Essentially, we have not dealt with CCE in the past and now it has become more widely recognised and recorded so has the demand increased… and so it should!

As with most things there are different views on depending on what Force you speak to but it is broadly recognised that there is a need to investigate all types of exploitation and create dedicated multi agency teams to investigate, prosecute and safeguard some of our most vulnerable.

There are various Forces and LA’s that have created the following teams:

  • Collaborated Exploitation and Missing teams
  • Safeguarding Hubs
  • Harm reduction teams
  • Complex Abuse Investigation Teams

The difficulty is demand and staff. For example, one force has created an Exploitation and Missing team and provided extra resources (both from Police and Partners) to Cope with the demand.

Another area’s Local Authority has a collaborated Family Connect team which essentially do the same thing.

Until we treat exploitation like Counter Terrorism making it everyone’s responsibility, we run the risk of silo working.

One force area’s response was:

In our force area we have historically had CSE within the Protecting Vulnerable People arm of CID alongside Domestic abuse, adults at risk and child abuse investigations. Over recent weeks I have been given the role of CE SPOC for our area pretty much on top of my normal Detective Sergeant role within PVP.(protecting vulnerable people). Our CSE coordinator has now become the CE Coordinator and a PVP Detective Constable will become dedicated to CE once her current workload is finalised. At this time, I am working with the coordinator to understand the new CE risk assessment pathway within our area and how the new pathway will used by agencies. Our weekly CE triage continues, and we are learning day by day as to how RA’s and intelligence will be acted upon and by which department. It has already been established that CSE will remain within PVP, but other CE investigations will need to be dealt with by other departments.

 Another force area’s response was:

In our force we have become the Child exploitation team and take on CSE and CCE investigations. All child NRMs (national referral mechanism) also come to us to review and deal with appropriately (which in reality is passing safeguarding to Children’s Services, submitting intelligence and then filing for the majority due to resource issues). We are co-located with Children’s Services CSE team, Barnardo’s and County Council missing persons practitioners, which improves the multi-agency response and immediate information sharing.

County lines is a difficult one and I share the frustrations of the person who submitted the query. County Lines investigations generally fall with our Proactive CID as part of any drugs work they do. Usually they do not include us, and we are not aware of children involved and have no influence on how to manage young people they find as part of any county lines investigation. We have tried starting our own investigation with county lines, but we do not have the resources or the proactive capability. We have just started an operation that involves CCE, CSE, county lines and cross border offenders. The county lines and cross border aspects are sitting with proactive CID, we own the exploitation and all victim contact (as they are all children) and reactive CID are owning an associated kidnap (where some of our exploited young people are offenders). Information is shared on an OCGM plan and we have fortnightly investigation meetings. It is very early days and I don’t expect it to run smooth. One issue we have is the contrasting views on exploited children between us and proactive CID.

One area of a force responded:

In our area CSE & CCE are held by the exploitation team.

Modern Slavery, County Lines investigations are also held by the exploitation team.

Currently there is a struggle, as there is no uplift in staff, but it helpfully sits under one strand.

MASE (Multi Agency Sexual Exploitation )is now MACE (Multi Agency Criminal Exploitation) to incorporate CCE/CSE/CL and held monthly across both sites, with a monthly pre-mace as well.

 Another force area’s response was:

We have children vulnerable to exploitation teams and we investigate CSE high risk cases and put in CCE work trying to extract the victim out of exploitation. Any offences the victim is suspected of is kept by the CID team, so as not confuse things in relation to CCE.