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IICSA published its final Report in October 2022. This website was last updated in January 2023.

IICSA Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse

Child sexual exploitation by organised networks investigation report


A.3: Terminology and references

18. The term ‘CSE’ is often used by practitioners as an abbreviation for child sexual exploitation. In this report, we do not use this acronym, except when repeating words used in evidence or in a record.

19. Those who have alleged abuse are referred to as ‘complainants’ and where abusers have been convicted (or where the fact of the abuse has been established formally in some other way) they are referred to as ‘victims and survivors’.

20. In recognition of the varying degrees of organisation that may characterise the sexual exploitation of children where there are associations between offenders, the terms ‘groups’ or ‘networks’ are used in this report. The scope of the investigation remains unchanged but the term ‘organised network’ is avoided.

21. Local authorities, through directors of children’s services, have statutory responsibility for the leadership, strategy and effectiveness of children’s services, including securing the provision of services to address the needs of children and young people.[1] Throughout this report, staff within local authorities with statutory responsibility for children are referred to as ‘children’s social care’. Until 2006, this work was carried out by social services departments and then by new children’s services departments. The term ‘children’s social care’ is used throughout for consistency.

22. As social care is a devolved function, England and Wales each has different legislative frameworks, policies, procedures and oversight structures at a governmental and local authority level. In contrast, criminal justice matters are largely non-devolved.[2]

23. Since 2018/19, local safeguarding children partnerships have, across England, been responsible at a local level for coordinating safeguarding and welfare services, identifying and responding to the needs of children.[3] These replaced local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs).[4]

24. In Wales, LSCBs remain responsible for agreeing how the different services and professional groups should cooperate to safeguard children and for making sure that arrangements work effectively in bringing about better outcomes for children and young people.[5] There is also a National Independent Safeguarding Board in Wales, which has a duty to provide support and advice to LSCBs, report on the adequacy of safeguarding arrangements and make recommendations for improvement.[6]

25. Where reference is made to ‘professionals’ working in child sexual exploitation, this means those working in children’s social care, police forces or healthcare services. These are the three primary agencies working in this field.

26. Children and young people’s mental health services (CYPMHS) is now used as a term for all services that work with children and young people who have difficulties with their mental health or well-being. The older term for children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) is generally used in this report, referring to the main specialist NHS mental health community services that are now provided within the wider CYPMHS. CAMHS was the acronym used most frequently in the case study material.

27. References in this report such as ASP000434 and ASP000434_007 are to documents or specific pages of documents which have been adduced in evidence and that can be found on the Inquiry website. A reference such as ‘CS-A12 22 September 2020 3-4’ is to the hearing transcript which is also available on the website – that particular reference is to the evidence of CS-A12 on 22 September 2020 at pages 3–4 of that day’s transcript.


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