Exploitation is where someone takes unfair advantage of others to gain something for themselves.

It occurs when a person is persuaded to do things in exchange for something that they need or want (coercion), or threatened or forced to do things by people with more power than them – this can be someone of a similar age to the child or young adult being exploited, as well as an adult. It can include being made to provide sexual acts (sexual exploitation) and/or to commit crimes such as theft, benefit fraud, or dealing, carrying or growing drugs (known as criminal exploitation).

Commonly children and young adults think that they have a free choice in their involvement, but when the people exploiting them have more power than they do, we do not believe that this is a free choice. The methods that the exploiters use include ‘grooming’ where someone builds a relationship, trust and emotional connection with a person so that they can exploit them; coercion; control; manipulation and threats. Children and young adults can also be experiencing exploitation and taking part in abusive behaviours towards others at the same time – exploitation is never the victim’s fault.


Worried about a child? 

If you have concerns about actual or likely risk of harm to a child please contact the Multi Agency Referral unit (MARU) without delay on:

You can also ring Childline for help and advice on 0800 11 11

Whether you are a member of the public or a professional, if you have a concern about a child or young person please contact Children's Social care: 

Telephone: 01720 424 483

Out of Hours: 01720 422 699

Email: childrenssocialcare@scilly.gov.uk

You can make an anonymous referral to children's social care, if you would prefer to call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000

If you are unable to speak to someone and you have immediate concerns for a child, dial 999 and ask for the police

Worried about an adult?

Everyone has the right to live their life free from violence, fear, and abuse, but not everyone can protect themselves. If you are an adult experiencing abuse or neglect, or if you are concerned about an adult possibly experiencing abuse or neglect, contact us:

Telephone: 0300 1234 105

Out of hours: 01720 423 643

Email: accessteam.referral@cornwall.gov.uk

Online: www.cornwall.gov.uk/safeguardingadults

In an emergency always dial 999


Police Reporting

To report incidents as they occur please contact the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency


We Are With You support adults, children, young adults and older people to make positive behavioural changes. Whether that’s with alcohol, drugs, or mental health and wellbeing, we’re here to help people improve their lives in ways they never thought possible.

0333 2000 325


Safer Futures provides support, safety planning, advice, therapy and recovery in domestic abuse and sexual violence. Whether that’s with alcohol, drugs, or mental health and wellbeing, we’re here to help people improve their lives in ways they never thought possible.

0300 777 4777



Young people Cornwall engages, inspires and supports young people across the county, with youth work that makes a difference.


The Devon and Cornwall Sexual Assault Referral Centre (SARC) provides safety, support, forensic medical facilities and assessments, sexual health advice and counselling to women, men, young people and children.

sarchelp.co.uk (secure online referral)

0300 303 4626