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Exploitation is a form of 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 any activity

  1. in exchange for something the victim needs or wants, and/or
  2. for the financial or other advantage of the perpetrator of facilitator and/or
  3. through violence or the threat of violence.

Specific types of exploitation includes:

  • Modern Slavery (including human trafficking)
  • Sexual Exploitation
  • Criminal Exploitation
  • Financial Exploitation

The victim may still be exploited even if the activities that they are engaging in appear consensual.

Multiple types of exploitation can occur alongside or as part of other forms of abuse.
Exploitation does not always involve physical contact; it can also occur through the use of technology.

County lines

‘County lines’ is the police term used to describe gangs supplying drugs to suburban areas, market and coastal towns across the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines. These organised crime networks exploit children and young people to store, move, sell and deliver their drugs, often making them travel across counties.

Sexual exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) is a form of sexual abuse that affects boys and girls of all backgrounds and from all communities, right across the UK. Children are most vulnerable to sexual exploitation between the ages of 13 and 15, but younger victims can also be targeted.

Child trafficking and modern slavery

Modern slavery is the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of men, women or children using force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means in order to exploit them.


This is when professional criminals target a person’s home (often belonging to a vulnerable person) so that the property can be used for drug dealing (including county lines).

These properties – also called ‘trap houses’ or ‘safe houses’ – may be used for short periods of time before operations move elsewhere. During this time the person may experience intimidation, violence and abuse.

Radicalisation and extremism

Radicalisation is when someone starts to believe or support extreme views, and in some cases, then participates in terrorist groups or acts. Anyone can be radicalised, but factors such as being easily influenced and impressionable make children and young people particularly vulnerable.

Guidance, Procedures and Assessment tools

The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough’s Criminal Exploitation and Child Sexual Exploitation Strategies are under review and have been removed from the website

Appropriate Language: Child Sexual and/or Criminal Exploitation Guidance for Professionals

This document can be used by professionals when discussing the exploitation of children and young people, including when escalating intelligence and delivering training. The document can be read at the beginning of strategy meetings, multi-agency meetings, or other settings where professionals might be discussing children and young people who are at risk of exploitation.

Capturing and Reporting Intelligence: Child Sexual and/or Criminal Exploitation Guidance for Families, Professionals and the Community

This document can be used by families, professionals and community members to help understand what intelligence is and how it can be reported so that it can be used to build a picture of current trends or patterns, in order to assist the police to prevent, investigate and disrupt crime.

As part of the Government’s ongoing commitment to tackle serious and violent crime, the Home Office has relaunched its County Lines awareness-raising campaign.

This campaign aims to raise awareness about County Lines among frontline staff, like teachers, health workers and those working in the transport, housing and security sectors. It is these people who are most likely to encounter those young people or individuals who are most at risk.

If you are concerned that an adult is at risk please call

Cambridgeshire  Peterborough

0345 045 5202

01733 747474

or email

or email

If it’s an emergency call 999

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