About complex safeguarding:

Complex safeguarding is an approach responding to criminal activity, or behaviour associated with criminality, involving children and adults, where there are concerns of exploitation and/or safeguarding concerns. Typically involving teams across social work, policing and other professions, this approach brings agencies together to tackle exploitation: most commonly child criminal exploitation and child sexual exploitation. Going beyond harm in a home environment, complex safeguarding looks to address the needs and circumstances of adolescents outside of a domestic setting

Identifying and responding to child sexual abuse within complex safeguarding approaches

Dr Jasmin Tregidga and Jo Lovett

This small-scale exploratory study considers the extent to which all forms of child sexual abuse feature in the work of professionals working within a complex safeguarding team. Conducted through a combination of semi-structured telephone interviews across one team, a small online focus group with participating social workers and an online survey to more than 60 individuals, the findings highlight the complexities of language used around child sexual abuse and child sexual exploitation and the challenges professions face in addressing concerns of child sexual abuse – especially without verbal disclosure - while endeavouring to build and maintain relationships of trust with young people.

Complex safeguarding remains a developing approach, but this study adds valuable insights on the role it currently plays in tackling child sexual abuse.

Complex safeguarding report (PDF, 2MB)

Complex safeguarding Welsh Summary (PDF, 1.2MB)

“Practitioner expertise on the links between child sexual exploitation and other forms of sexual abuse must not be lost, and practitioners need to be mindful that other forms of child sexual abuse may have occurred (or be occurring) in cases involving child sexual exploitation or criminal exploitation”