Complex Safeguarding Wales

A CASCADE project

What is Child Criminal Exploitation?

Child criminal exploitation is a form of child abuse

Child criminal exploitation is when adults or older youths deceive, persuade or force young people into committing crimes. This is usually linked to drug dealing crimes, but it can also include other types of crime such as burglary, theft, fraud or violent crimes.

There are three main types of child criminal exploitation in Wales:

County Lines

County lines is a term the police use for when gangs or criminal networks are involved in drug dealing operations from one area to another within the UK using dedicated mobile phone lines, known as a ‘deal line’.

County lines groups often use violence, intimidation or coercion to manipulate young people or vulnerable adults to move or store the drugs or money. This has become known as ‘County lines exploitation’ as it involves child criminal exploitation and is a form of child abuse.

Modern Slavery and Trafficking

These terms are used when children or adults are exploited, forced or coerced into a life of abuse, forced labour, service and poor treatment by more powerful adults or groups.

Children and young people may be exploited, forced or coerced for the purpose of child criminal exploitation. They may be trafficked from one country to another, or from one part of a Welsh town to another.

Child Sexual Exploitation

Child Sexual Exploitation is a form of child abuse that includes any form of sexual activity.

Child criminal exploitation is when adults or older youths deceive, persuade or force young people into sexual activity. This can include adults or older youths developing a relationship with a young person so they can coerce, control or manipulate them. It does not have to include physical contact. Child Sexual Exploitation can happen through social media.

Some young people may be both criminally and sexually exploited, or one form of exploitation may be used to force them into the other.

More information on Child Sexual Exploitation can be found here:

Child Financial Exploitation

Child Financial Exploitation is when adults or older youths deceive, persuade or force young people into opening a bank account or handing over their bank account on their behalf. This can be used for money laundering to conceal money made from county lines exploitation or other forms of child criminal exploitation.

There has also been an increase in ‘money flipping’ where adults or older youths offer their services to make short term investments for a large return. Young people may be persuaded, coerced or deceived to send their savings via social media. However, they are then blocked with no way to retrieve their money.

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