Child sexual exploitation Facts and statistics

Official statistics on how many sexually exploited children have been identified by the authorities are not currently available. Although there has been a lot of research into the factors that are associated with child sexual exploitation, very few studies look into the numbers of children who have been exploited. 

People

Over 2,400 children were victims of sexual exploitation in gangs and groups from August 2010 to October 2011

Explanation: 2,409 children were confirmed as victims of sexual exploitation in gangs and groups during the 14-month period from August 2010 to October 2011.

illustration of umbrella

The most common reasons for children to be trafficked are labour exploitation and sexual exploitation

Explanation: In 2016 the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received a total of 3,805 referrals of potential victims of trafficking. 1,278 (34%) were children under the age of 18. The most prevalent exploitation types for children believed to have been trafficked were labour exploitation (37% of all children believed to have been trafficked) and sexual exploitation (28%). The exploitation type of 27% of children believed to have been trafficked was recorded as unknown.

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation and is a form of modern slavery.

Figures used are from NRM data. NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for all the different agencies involved in a modern slavery case (for example, the police, UK Visa and Immigration, local authorities and NGOs) to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

These figures are likely to be under-estimates due to the difficulties in recognising and understanding that individuals have been victims of trafficking. It is also not mandatory for a professional to make a referral to the NRM.

See also Indicator 19 in How safe are our children? 2017

Find out more about the National Referral Mechanism.

Over 360 children were trafficked for sexual exploitation last year

Explanation: In 2016 the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received a total of 3,805 referrals of potential victims of trafficking. 1,278 (34%) were children under the age of 18. The most prevalent exploitation types for children believed to have been trafficked were labour exploitation (468, 37% of all children believed to have been trafficked) and sexual exploitation (362, 28%). The exploitation type of 27% (345) of children believed to have been trafficked was recorded as unknown.

Figures used are from NRM data. NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for all the different agencies involved in a modern slavery case (for example, the police, UK Visa and Immigration, local authorities and NGOs) to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

These figures are likely to be under-estimates due to the difficulties in recognising and understanding that individuals have been victims of trafficking. It is also not mandatory for a professional to make a referral to the NRM.

Find out more about the National Referral Mechanism.

See Indicator 19 in How safe are our children? 2017.

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