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Three years ago the Tackling Child Exploitation (TCE) Support Programme was commissioned by the Department for Education (DfE) to support local areas to respond effectively to child exploitation and extra-familial harm. Specifically, the Programme was tasked with supporting the strategic response of local safeguarding partnerships, to offer support to colleagues in leadership roles and add value to existing activity in this space. It has been a privilege to work with and learn alongside 84 local areas over the course of this Programme, and to see so many local areas attending TCE learning events run between October 2021 and March 2022. A wealth of resources and project learning reports can be found on the TCE microsite.

We are delighted to announce that TCE will be continuing for a further 12 months, until March 2023. Building on Programme learning to date, TCE will work alongside cross-government colleagues, children, young people, families, community organisations and professionals from across the safeguarding sector to collaboratively develop ‘Practice Principles’ for child exploitation and extra-familial harm.

Many stakeholders, including, of course, the National Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel in their review focused on CCE, have highlighted the need for some form of guidance in relation to this complex field of work. TCE’s experiences with local areas over the past three years have offered invaluable learning on how to support system change, including the importance of the ‘softer’ parts of the system, like relationships and behaviours, as well as ‘harder’ aspects like processes and deliverables. Programme learning suggests these principles will need to accommodate a number of criteria:


  • They must relate not only to ‘practice’ but also to the wider factors that influence practice, including management and supervision, strategic leadership, and commissioning.

  • They must be multi-agency by design, reflecting the shared responsibility of all partners, not only statutory Safeguarding Partners, to address child exploitation and extra-familial harm.

  • They should aim to promote coherence across the country, but must also be flexible enough to respond to the local context.

  • They must be clear enough to make sense across professional agencies, and make sense to children, young people and families, but must not over-simplify the complexity of this work. 

  • They must complement and add value to existing statutory and non-statutory guidance, professional codes of ethics and policy initiatives.

  • They must recognise the considerable strengths and talents across the sector, whilst being ambitious and challenging.

  • They must be grounded in evidence, but also able to adapt in light of evolving knowledge.

  • Crucially, children, young people, their families and the practitioners who serve them must be a central part of the consultation process.

Just as the best practitioners respect the expertise held by young people and families, and therefore work with them instead of doing to them, it is vital that the Programme doesn’t ‘do to’ the sector. We don’t want to ‘roll out’ a prescriptive model or top-down instructions. Not only would that undermine the many talented and knowledgeable colleagues working up and down the country, it would also be wholly ineffective (there are multiple perspectives within a single team of just one service in one local safeguarding partnership, let alone 150 plus).

The goal is not to generate additional ‘guidance’ or to formulate a detailed (tick box) approach, but rather to enable coherence and a shared sense of direction that helps partnerships to better understand the complex landscape, whilst being sensitive to the local context. Through dissemination events in early 2023, the Programme will share the Practice Principles and practical tools for local areas to support their introduction and use, both strategically and operationally.

As ever, the TCE team will draw on knowledge from research, professional wisdom and expertise from lived experience. To inform and test out the principles, the team will undertake consultation activities with professionals across the country, alongside consulting children, young people, families and community organisations, and conduct a rapid scope of relevant research.

We welcome your expertise and strongly encourage you to register for one of our open-access consultation events in June. Booking is open now. And sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date on all our activities and opportunities to contribute. If you have any specific queries or questions, send an email to: tceadmin@researchinpractice.org.uk with CONSULTATION in the subject heading.

This is a fantastic opportunity to influence systems improvement. We hope that colleagues and communities across England will contribute to the creation of the Practice Principles. We look forward to continuing to learn from and alongside you.


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TCE is running a consultation to develop Practice Principles. Let us know if you think there is something important you would like us to look at or consider as part of the consultation.

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