Internet-related child sexual exploitation inspections

There can be no more important duty placed on society than to protect children from harm. The police service in England and Wales plays a vital role in keeping children safe and carrying out this duty.

In 2012, we carried out fieldwork as part of an inspection into how police forces performed in their work to prevent online child sexual exploitation which is facilitated and enabled by the internet. This fieldwork identified opportunities to carry out coordinated law enforcement activity to apprehend perpetrators across England and Wales. As a result, operation Notarise was established as a large-scale police operation between the National Crime Agency and the police service. So far, 745 people have been arrested, 900 premises searched, and nearly 10,000 devices capable of storing indecent images of children have been seized. Over 500 children have been identified and safeguarded as a result of this activity.

From time to time, during of our inspection work, we come across live police operations. We don’t make public any material that might compromise current operations or pending criminal trials.

We postponed further inspection work so as not to jeopardise current operations. We have now completed our inspection and this report sets out our findings, drawing from our earlier fieldwork and from additional inspections that took place in 2014.

Get the report

Online and on the edge: Real risks in a virtual world – An inspection into how forces deal with the online sexual exploitation of children

We expect our findings, conclusions and recommendations to improve police standards in protecting children from online exploitation, and to increase efficiency and effectiveness of child protection investigations in all forces in England and Wales. We hope, too, that it helps the public and police and crime commissioners to hold the police service to account.

CSE inspection methodology

We visited six police forces to:

  • examine how technological advances facilitate the way in which offenders commit their crimes;
  • assess how well the police service is currently dealing with these issues; and
  • examine how other bodies can help the police service in identifying and preventing these offences.

The inspection methodology built on our earlier national child protection inspections. It comprised case audits and interviews with police officers, police staff and representatives from other agencies. The CSE assessment criteria can be found below.

CSE Assessment Criteria (PDF document)

If you would like to get advice on any of the issues raised in these report, please contact ChildLine

Please note: In July 2017 HMIC took on responsibility for fire & rescue service inspections and was renamed HM Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire & Rescue Services (HMICFRS). Inspections carried out before July 2017 may continue to refer to HMIC.