Whilst the majority of children and young people grow up happy, healthy and safe, for some their experience may include being groomed, coerced or recruited into dangerous and harmful situations through sexual, criminal and financial exploitation.

West Sussex County Council (WSCC) are working to help identify and support children and young people who are exploited.

Education settings

Across West Sussex, education settings embrace their statutory duty to deliver relationship, sex and health education. This includes support to recognise the signs of abuse and exploitation.

To make this an easy process, an innovative online platform called Education for Safeguarding, which has been running for over four years, provides schools with access to training and guidance. There are tailored expert learning resources so pupils can learn how to stay safe from different forms of risk outside the home.

Home Office funding enabled WSCC's Education, Community Safety, Public Health and Library Service teams to develop the first phase of the website. To achieve this, we worked in partnership with 'Loop Designs', a local business, at no cost to WSCC.

Children’s Services

Updated child protection procedures were put into place last summer to help Children’s Services respond more holistically to child exploitation.

We have, and continue to, identify exploited children and young people in the county. They are safeguarded through the new Multi-Agency Child Exploitation (MACE) pathway which includes commitment from:

  • various county council teams
  • district and borough councils
  • schools
  • health providers
  • the local community and voluntary sector.

Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership

The Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership aims to protect young people and make our communities safer. It does this by bringing together the police, local authorities, criminal justice, the NHS, public health and community organisations to tackle the root causes of serious violence in Sussex.

Through the Sussex Violence Reduction Partnership we commission expert organisations to provide targeted support to vulnerable children and teenagers.


We work with AudioActive who are a non-profit organisation promoting social change through weekly music and wellbeing sessions. This provides a diversion away from knife carrying and serious violence in a supportive environment. It also enhances and nurtures the talent of young people across the county.

Sussex Police

We work with Sussex Police to spread the word about 'Operation Safety', which tackles knife crime in Sussex.

Knife Intervention Project

The project supports young people who are at risk of carrying knives and have involvement in serious violence. Children's Social Care, Youth Justice Service, the police and districts and boroughs nominate individuals for support. Assistance is targeted and community-based, helping them move away from criminal activity.

Dame Kelly Holmes Trust

In 2024, we are working with the Dame Kelly Holmes Trust to support five young people who are at high risk of being involved with knife crime. They receive 1-to-1 support in a programme specifically designed for them, delivered by a trained athlete mentor. The mentor brings their skill and experience from the world of sport and also has their own lived experience of issues similar to the young people they are supporting.

Raise concerns

If you’re concerned that a child you know is being exploited or you would like more information about the signs and indicators of exploitation, find information and reporting opportunities through the following sites: