Published on
04 September 2019

Police Scotland and Barnardo’s Scotland  together combating Child Sexual Exploitation

Barnardo's Scotland calls for a multi-agency approach to tackling Child Sexual Exploitation and to focus all of our energies on disruption, preventing child exploitation and abuse from happening in the first place.  

The exploitation and abuse of vulnerable young people is one of the most serious child protection issues of our time. Although the true scale of the issue remains largely unknown, there remains the need for improved identification of child exploitation and abuse; appropriate supports for its young victims, and the collection and collation of data on the prevalence, nature and scope of child sexual exploitation (CSE) and abuse (CSA) in Scotland. 

We need a multi-agency approach to tackling CSE and to focus all of our energies on disruption, preventing child exploitation and abuse from happening in the first place.  

Barnardo’s Scotland has been at the forefront in responding to exploitation and abuse in Scotland for nearly three decades, today it delivers support services in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Fife, Glasgow and the West of Scotland. 

The charity does this by working with colleagues from Police Scotland, local authorities and other agencies, sharing knowledge and experience of what works in tackling CSE.

Martin Crewe, Director of Barnardo’s Scotland said:

“As the world changes and evolves so do the risks facing young people. We know all children can become victims of sexual abuse and exploitation: girls and boys, from every ethnicity, religion and cultural background; LGBTI young people; and those with disabilities.

“Children who have already experienced neglect and abuse are especially vulnerable, but with new technologies all children are at risk of being groomed online, often by adult predators using the cover of anonymity to “befriend” them.

“We know too that a simple sticking plaster approach is not enough and that more needs to be done to shift the national narrative from just supporting victims to early intervention and preventing child exploitation and abuse from happening in the first place.”

Disrupting perpetration and perpetrator networks is a key part of Scottish policy on Child Sexual Exploitation.  Police Scotland and Barnardo’s Scotland practitioner’s role in disrupting this range from early intervention around identified risks, through to acting on identified exploitation to preventing further victimisation and recurring abuse, resulting in swifter identification of perpetrators and of children and young people at risk.

Daljeet Dagon, Barnardo’s Scotland’s National Programme Manager for Child Sexual Exploitation, said:

 “A vital aspect of our services is the importance of collaboratively working alongside partner agencies and sharing information that helps agencies “putting the different pieces of the jigsaw together”, enabling more effective, early identification of risk, which results in the disruption of perpetrator activity."

By carrying out ‘return home discussion’ with children who have gone missing Barnardo’s Scotland has both supported individual children and identified key intelligence that has led to child protection investigations - this information sharing across organisations (within GDPR constraints) is absolutely vital to disrupting perpetrator activity.

The focus on prevention also led to the charity’s partnership with Crimestoppers and the development of the ‘Nightwatch Hotline’, directed at the ‘night time economy’.  

Daljeet continued: “Taxi drivers, staff at takeaways, bars and hotel workers are in the frontline for spotting possible exploitation so we need to make it easy for them to report any concerns.”

Barnardo’s Scotland’s newly launched services in Fife and Glasgow; RISE (Reducing the Impact of Sexual Exploitation), will support Police Scotland’s officers by improving their support to children under the age of 18.  In consultation with Police Scotland, the charity’s CSE Advisors will assist in identifying and disrupting perpetrators and perpetrator networks, protecting current victims, and preventing potential victims, by bringing together intelligence information.

Minister for Children and Young People Maree Todd said:

“We want to ensure that Scotland is a place where children and young people are protected from harm.

“Barnardo’s Scotland and Police Scotland have been key partners in the delivery of our National Action Plan to Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation and this showcase celebrates their vital contribution.

“Barnardo’s Scotland’s innovative multi-agency approach to protecting children has been instrumental in developing new responses to the ever-changing nature of the risks faced by children and young people today.”

Detective Superintendent Elaine Galbraith, Head of Child Protection, Police Scotland, said:

"Building on our strong partnerships across public protection and working within communities to tackle child sexual abuse including CSE is key to raising public awareness and to preventing children and young people being sexually abused. CSE remains a complex issue with children often unaware that they are being targeted by predators. Therefore maximising opportunities to disrupt offending behaviour at an early stage is vital to protecting children and young people.

"Developing staff across all organisations to understand, recognise and act if they suspect a child is being sexually abused and/or exploited is a key factor in that early intervention."

The charity says there are many initiatives across Scotland that are helping to tackle CSE but the reality is that efforts are inconsistent and risk only scratching the tip of the iceberg.  

Martin Crewe, said: “Barnardo’s Scotland don’t just respond to the challenges of today, but  seek to prevent problems from occurring tomorrow, continuing to work in partnership with National and Local Government, police, health bodies and local communities to support families, keep children safe from harm, and give young people the tools and resilience they need to achieve a positive future.”

The charity acknowledges ​​​we have come a long way in increasing awareness and improving support for the victims of exploitation and abuse, but says there is still so much more to be done.

Martin Crewe continued: “If we are to turn the tide on Child Sexual Exploitation then we must invest more in services across the country, create genuine multi-agency partnerships that can share intelligence and remain absolutely determined to tackle the exploitation of children in all its manifestations.”


Notes to Editors:

Barnardo’s Scotland is a leader in the field of CSE in terms of public profile and service delivery. Central to the charity’s work is their aim to ensure that CSE is recognised as a distinct form of child sexual abuse and that a robust response to CSE is required across Scotland.

Over the past 10 years there has been progress in tackling crime in Scotland.  Both the overall crime rate and the number of homicides have fallen by around 40%.  Reconviction rates have fallen, especially among under-25s, and the number of children referred to the Scottish Children’s Reporter Administration (SCRA) on offence grounds is down almost 80%.  

In contrast the figures for sexual crime have been moving in the opposite direction.  Sexual crimes now constitute around 75% of the work of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service (COPFS) and the High Court.  Many factors lie behind the increase in recorded sexual crime including new legislation, greater willingness of victims to report and increased attention to historical abuse.  Despite this complexity it is clear that this is an increasing challenge.

Information about Barnardo’s Scotland’s CSE Services can be found in Barnardo's Scotland - Nightwatch Parliamentary Brochure (PDF) Who will notice, who will ask? Barnardo’s Scotland’s approach to preventing, intervening and disrupting child sexual exploitation

Signs of CSE If you would like more information about identifying the signs of CSE, support or any further information please visit our website at:

Barnardo’s RISE (Reducing the Impact of Sexual Exploitation) Service supports Police Scotland’s operational response by improving support to children under 18 affected by Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) through the provision of specialist advice and consultation.

The CSE Advisor role takes a proactive, multi-agency approach to be able to identify children and young people at risk of, or who are experiencing, CSE. Through the sharing of information between Police Scotland, the CSE Advisors and local partners. CSE Advisors help to identify risk to young people. The CSE Advisors work with Police Scotland officers in Aberdeen, Dundee, Fife and Glasgow and draw on the skills, knowledge and intelligence of key agencies to provide a coordinated response to CSE across these areas.

Barnardo’s Scotland work with more than 16,300 children and young people in over 140 specialised community-based services across Scotland and has over 100 shops.  We believe in children and we believe every young person has a right to thrive. Our vision is to realise Thomas Barnardo’s dream of a world where no child is turned away from the help that they need. Our work includes: fostering and adoption services and support; helping children break free from sexual exploitation; supporting young people leaving care; helping young people in to employment and helping children living in poverty.   

Visit to find out how you can get involved and show you believe in children.  Twitter: @BarnardosScot Facebook: Barnardo’s Scotland 

Media enquiries:

Katrina Slater media office – Barnardo’s Scotland; telephone: 0131 446 7022 or 0208 498 7555 (24 hours), email: [email protected]