Referring Cases of Concern (Sexual Abuse)

Where a member of staff or carer is concerned that an Adult at Risk is involved in, or at risk of, sexual exploitation, they should contact their Safeguarding Adult Lead, as outlined in Stage One - Raising a concern/Duty to Enquire Procedure. The allocated social worker should also be informed, if there is one.

Staff or carers should also contact the police, if they are concerned a crime has been, or may be, committed.

Carers should also contact their social worker / support agency at the earliest opportunity or for advice if they first want to discuss their concerns.

If the adult is not deemed to be at risk of, or is being sexually exploited, the central contact team where safeguarding concerns are reported to should consider onward referral to relevant agencies. This should include liaison with the member of staff or carer who made the referral.

Supporting Adults out of Sexual Exploitation

Staff from statutory agencies and voluntary sector organisations together with the adult, carers, and his / her family as appropriate, should agree on the services which should be provided to them and how they will be coordinated. The types of intervention offered should be appropriate to their needs and should take full account of identified risk factors and their individual circumstances. This may include, for example, previous abuse, missing incidents, involvement in gangs and groups and/or human trafficking. Health services provided may include sexual health services and mental health services. Advice should be sought from the nearest specialist service, which works with adults involved in sexual exploitation. A referral should be made as appropriate, if the adult is in agreement. Because of the lasting effects of sexual exploitation, support may be required over a long period of time.

Identifying and Prosecuting Sources of Harm

The police and criminal justice agencies lead on the identification and prosecution of sources of harm. All practitioners, however, have a role in gathering, recording and sharing information with the police and other agencies, as appropriate and in agreement with them.

Staff and carers should bear in mind that sexual exploitation often does not occur in isolation and has links to other crime types, including:

  • Sexual violence in intimate relationships;
  • Grooming (both online and offline);
  • Abusive sexual images and their distribution (organised abuse);
  • Organised sexual abuse, including of children;
  • Drugs-related offences (dealing, consuming and cultivating);
  • Gang-related activity (see also Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Gangs and Groups (CSEGG)
  • Children’s Commissioner, 2013.
  • Immigration-related offences.
  • Domestic servitude.

Supporting Adults through Related Legal Proceedings

Where alleged sources of harm are arrested and charged with offences against adults allocated staff and carers should ensure they are supported throughout the prosecution process and beyond. Specialist agencies should be involved in supporting the adult, as required. This may include using special measures to protect them when giving evidence in court for example. Independent Sexual Violence Advisers or specialist voluntary sector services, if available, may also have an important role to play.