Threat assessment of child sexual exploitation and abuse

Children Information technology Child sexual abuse Technology and youth Great Britain

This report examines current and emerging threats posed to children in the United Kingdom from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse and also threats to children abroad from UK nationals, with a focus on online activity.


Aim & scope

1. Last year the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre published its first annual Threat Assessment of Child Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (TACSEA), which examined current and emerging threats posed to children in the United Kingdom from sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.

2. The 2013 TACSEA builds on and updates last year’s document and, in line with CEOP’s founding ethos that every child matters…everywhere, also examines the threat to children abroad from UK nationals. The purpose of the assessment is to enable CEOP to set its strategic priorities for the year ahead by describing the nature and extent of the threat landscape and how we assess it will change during the year. This will ensure that in a time of austerity across the public sector, CEOP resources are deployed where the threat to children is the greatest. It also provides a picture for partners to consider in their strategies and resource deployment.

3. CEOP’s mission, as set out in its three year strategy, is to work with others to protect children from sexual abuse and exploitation. It is recognised, however, that many other agencies in the UK have responsibility for tackling the spectrum of child sexual abuse particularly where it occurs in the home or within the family. Whilst acknowledging the wider context of child sexual exploitation and abuse this assessment focuses on those areas, both online and offline, where CEOP can add value and where no other agency has an appreciable footprint.

4. The TACSEA is an intelligence product, the purpose of which is to enhance understanding of a particular threat area. As an exception reporting tool it highlights only significant changes to that threat during the reporting period and it should therefore be read in conjunction with the 2012 TACSEA. The assessment sets out what is currently known about the threats to children and highlights those areas where understanding is less well developed.

5. This assessment signals the start of the second year of a three year strategy in which CEOP undertakes to assess where and how children are most at risk from sexual exploitation and abuse, to communicate this widely and to develop programmes to mitigate threats. It is likely that CEOP will conduct an additional threat assessment in the autumn of 2013 to inform the setting of national priorities.

6. In October 2013, CEOP will become a command of the National Crime Agency (NCA). The NCA will be the centrepiece of the reformed policing landscape and will spearhead the national crime fighting response to serious, organised and complex crime. Within the NCA, CEOP will further develop its strategic approach to prevent child sexual exploitation and abuse, to protect children and young people who are at risk of victimisation and to pursue offenders who target children in the UK or overseas.

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