Everyone has a responsibility for safeguarding children and young people.

If you have a concern about a child or a family you are working with you can visit the South West Child Protection Procedures (SWCPP) website for more information and advice.

This Devon escalation policy, step down policy should be followed by professionals when they have safeguarding concerns which they feel are not being adequately addressed.

If you are looking for information regarding the development of new policies and procedures, have a look at the local guidance developed by DSCB and the related flowchart.

Download a list of designated Safeguarding Leads in Devon.

Child sexual exploitation is, to a great extent, a hidden problem. However, campaigners are working hard to raise awareness of this form of child abuse. Children, both girls and boys, are groomed and forced, pressured or tricked into engaging in sexual activities or the taking of sexual images.

What is child sexual exploitation?

Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is an illegal activity by people who have power or influence over young people. It is a form of sexual abuse in which a young person is manipulated into taking part in sexual acts. It can happen directly face to face, as well as over the internet and via mobile phones.

The young person may not recognise what is happening because the abuser makes them think they are in a relationship and are special.  Child Sexual Exploitation can also happen as a result of violence, threats or intimidation. Therefore it is important that professionals don’t rely on the young person disclosing their abuse in order to identify that CSE is taking place.

CSE can happen to anyone, regardless of their gender, age, ethnicity or background.

Sexual exploitation of children and young people under eighteen involves exploitative relationships, violence, coercion and intimidation being characterised in the main by the child or young person’s limited availability of choice resulting from social and economic and/or emotional vulnerability. It is essential all agencies stringently do all they can to reduce incidents of missing young people and when a child does runaway robust efforts should be made to locate the individuals.

Sexual abuse can be very difficult to identify. Children who have been sexually abused may show a variety of signs and symptoms.

Warning signs

  • Going missing or absent for periods of time, or regularly returning home late without reasonable explanation
  • Regularly missing school
  • Being secretive about where they are and who they are with
  • Secretive use of the internet
  • Being in contact with older people online that are not part of their usual peer network
  • Having unexplained new possessions, for example a mobile phone
  • Having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • Isolation from peer group, family and friends
  • Drug and alcohol misuse
  • Displaying inappropriate sexualised behaviour, including how they dress
  • Mood swings or changes in behaviour
  • Changes in physical appearance such as weight loss or appearing tired all of the time or anal or vaginal soreness or an unusual discharge, and pregnancy
  • Having unexplained injuries
  • Frequent STI’s or unwanted pregnancies
  • suddenly starts to behave differently
  • thinks badly, or does not look after, him or herself
  • avoids being alone with a particular family member
  • fears an adult or is reluctant to socialise with them
  • tries to tell you about abuse indirectly, through hints or clues
  • describes behaviour by an adult that suggests they are being ‘groomed’ for future abuse

For a few children these effects may be relatively short-term, depending on the individual child, the nature of the abuse and the help they receive. However, for many the effects can last into adulthood and cause a long list of problems, especially mental health problems and drug or alcohol misuse.

Who can I speak to?

If you are worried about a child or young person, the first thing you should do is speak to someone at the MASH in Devon, (Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub) on 0345 155 1071 or email the Devon MACSE team here.  or in Torbay call the Safeguarding Hub on 01803 208100 or email ku.v1548011409og.xs1548011409cg.vo1548011409g.yab1548011409rot@b1548011409uhgni1548011409draug1548011409efas.1548011409yabro1548011409t1548011409and give as much information as you can. If you have immediate concerns about a young person, please call the police on 999.

Visit http://www.devonsafeguardingchildren.org/cse for all the latest guidance.

Support the campaign

A key step in protecting young people from CSE is to raise awareness amongst young people, parents and carers and workers and volunteers. Below are some useful links to leaflets and websites. Please distribute these leaflets within your agency and consider handing them out to young people or parents and carers that you are working with.
Key publications/links:
Devon Threshold Tool
Working Together to Safeguard children (CSE guidance)
Peninsula protocol
National CSE Strategy (DoH)

The TSCB has developed this Risk Indicator Toolkit to support professionals in identifying CSE.

You can read more about this:

If you think a child you are working with is a victim of sexual exploitation you can read more about this here

Download Barnados new Wud U? app – Wud U? Is an educational tool for teachers and care professionals who interact with young people that might be at risk of sexual exploitation.

West Yorkshire Police have released this video as part of their ‘Child sexual exploitation – know the signs’ campaign. Read more about the campaign here. If you have a concern about a child or young person call;

Devon – 0345 155 1071

Torbay – 01803 208100


Modern communication technology; including the internet and social media, mobile phones and game consoles have become part of our everyday lives.

Young people are more at risk of exposure to inappropriate or criminal behaviour if they are unaware of the dangers which include:

  • viewing unsuitable content e.g. hate material, adult pornography and/or extreme forms of obscene material, sites that endorse unhealthy behaviour
  • internet chat rooms, discussion forums and bulletin boards being used to contact and groom children for inappropriate or abusive relationships, which may include requests to make and transmit pornographic images of themselves (Contacts made initially in a chat room are likely to be carried on via email, instant messaging services, mobile phone or text messaging)
  • giving out personal information
  • arranging to meet an online ‘friend’
  • becoming involved in, or the victim of, bullying, using text messaging and/or mobile phone cameras
  • spending too much time online (internet addiction), which can effect concentration, sleep and health
  • Sexting and inappropriate content sharing
  • becoming susceptible to recruitment by violent extremists

Read more about online safety here or visit the UK Safer Internet Centre where you will find e-safety advice, tips and resources to help children and young people stay safe online.


Female genital mutilation (sometimes referred to as female circumcision) refers to procedures that intentionally alter and cause injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The practice is illegal in the UK.

However, it has been estimated that over 20,000 girls under the age of 15 are at risk of female genital mutilation (FGM) in the UK each year, and that 66,000 women in the UK are living with the consequences of FGM (NHS, 2014). The true extent is unknown due to the ‘hidden’ nature of the crime.

The girls may be taken to their country of origin so that FGM can be carried out during the summer holidays, allowing them time to ‘heal’ before they return to school. There are also worries that some girls may have FGM performed in the UK.

FGM is usually carried out on young girls between infancy and age 15, most commonly before puberty starts. The procedure is traditionally carried out by a woman with no medical training. Anaesthetics and antiseptic treatments are not generally used and girls may have to be forcibly restrained.

FGM can cause severe pain, bleeding, wound infections, inability to urinate, injury to vulval tissues, damage to other organs and sometimes even death. Other complications can arise later with the onset of puberty.
If you may come into contact with girls and women at risk of FGM, you can visit the SWCPP website or read the Multi-Agency Practice Guidelines on Female Genital Mutilation (HMG 2016).

Human trafficking is the trade in humans, most commonly for the purpose of sexual slavery, forced labour or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. Human trafficking is a crime against the person because it violates the victim’s rights of movement through coercion and because of their commercial exploitation.

Wherever staff or volunteers in an agency come into contact with a child who has arrived unaccompanied in the country and is not in contact with social care or a child who is accompanied, but for whom they have concerns regarding their welfare or safety, they should make a referral to children’s social care. For more information on this read here

You can find out more about human trafficking from Purple Teardrop

A forced marriage is where one or both people do not (or in cases of people with learning or physical disabilities, cannot) consent to the marriage and pressure or abuse is used.

The pressure put on people to marry against their will can be physical (including threats, actual physical violence and sexual violence) or emotional and psychological (for example, when someone is made to feel like they’re bringing shame on their family). Financial abuse (taking wages or not giving the victim any money) can also be a factor.

The following guide provides information for professionals protecting the victims of forced marriage. It also gives details of financial support for charities and awareness-raising publications. Information for people directly affected by forced marriage is also available here.

An honor killing is the homicide of a family member or social group by other members, due to the belief that the victim has brought shame or dishonor upon the family or community, It is often linked to reasons such as refusing to enter an arranged marriage, being in a relationship that is disapproved by their relatives, having sex outside marriage, becoming the victim of rape, dressing in ways which are deemed inappropriate, or engaging in homosexual relations.

Honor killings are especially targeted against women and homosexuals. The practice, which occurs in various cultures, is universally condemned by human rights organisations. Honour violence and killings occur worldwide, including the UK.

If you have concerns about someone’s safety please call the Police on 999

Domestic abuse occurs when one adult in a family or relationship threatens, bullies, hurts or controls another adult e.g. physically, psychologically, emotionally, sexually or financially. Domestic abuse can have a significant impact on a child. Domestic abuse is a factor in many families who are known to social care teams and frontline staff throughout the UK.

All family members have been known to commit domestic abuse including mothers, fathers, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandparents, in-laws and step-family.

How does it affect children?

  • Domestic violence may teach children to use violence
  • Violence can affect children in serious and long-lasting ways
  • Where there is domestic abuse there is often child abuse
  • Children will often blame themselves for domestic abuse
  • Alcohol misuse is very common contributing factor when violence occurs in families
  • Pregnant women are more vulnerable to domestic violence, causing harm to the unborn child
  • It can teach them that violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict
  • Children may learn how to keep secrets if they are witness to abuse but told not to tell anyone
  • They learn to mistrust those closest to them

Find out more about domestic abuse here and if you have serious concerns follow the Devon referral process or the Torbay referral process.

You can encourage a victim to self-refer to Victim Support by calling 0845 3030 900 or online here.

Medium and high level risk cases should be referred to Splitz Support Service in Devon or Torbay Domestic Abuse Service.

Devon MARAC Referral and MASH Enquiry Form

The Devon Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conferences (MARACs) have established a firm link with the Devon Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH). They have worked together to create a new dual referral form to ensure that there is appropriate consideration of safeguarding children living in high risk domestic violence and abuse (DVA) households.

This new combined MARAC Referral and MASH Enquiry form needs to be completed for every high risk DVA case as follows:

  • If there are children in the household, both the MARAC and the MASH part of the form should be completed and a copy of the whole form sent to both MARAC and MASH.
  • If there are no children, only the MARAC side should be completed and sent to MARAC only.

Please note: It is the responsibility of the referrer to send to both MARAC and MASH.

For information about the new combined MARAC Referral and MASH Enquiry Form please click here.

Please use the new Guidance to help you complete the new combined MARAC Referral and MASH Enquiry Form correctly.

Read more here: