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Vulnerable, exploited, missing, trafficked (VEMT)

The VPG is an operational group which supports frontline practitioners in their role of supporting a child or young person. The group is based on partnership problem solving model incorporating the signs of safety and ensures positive outcomes for children and young people.

VEMT supports young peoples through action planning to reduce their risk in the following behaviours:

Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)

Child sexual exploitation is a form of child sexual abuse. It occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into sexual activity.

The definition of child sexual exploitation is taken from the Department for Education's 'Child sexual exploitation: definition and guide for practitioners'.

Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE)

Child criminal exploitation occurs where an individual or group takes advantage of an imbalance of power to coerce, control, manipulate or deceive a child or young person under the age of 18 into any criminal activity: The criminal exploitation of children is not confined to the term county lines but can also include other forms of criminal activity such as theft, acquisitive crime, knife crimes and other forms of criminality.

The definition of child exploitation is taken from the Home Office child exploitation disruption toolkit.

County lines

County lines used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of 'deal line'. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence), and weapons.

Gangs use children and vulnerable people to move drugs and money to these areas. Once caught up in county lines, exploited individuals are at risk of extreme physical and/or sexual violence, gang recriminations and trafficking.

The definition of county lines is taken from Home Office's 'County lines partner pack'.

VEMT Vulnerability Risk Assessment


To refer into the VPG a lead professional must complete the VEMT Vulnerability Assessment completing the applicable domains and complete the scoring tool within. A decision will be made via a multi-agency assessment meeting (pre-agenda) where the case will be accepted or alternative interventions offered.

The Tees-wide child exploitation VEMT practitioner screening tool / referral form must be used to refer a child or young person to the VEMT Practitioners group (VPG).

What should practitioners do?


Any child, in any community, regardless of gender or ethnicity can suffer CSE, CCE, or County Lines.


When completing social care or Early Help assessments and undertaking Signs of Safety meetings, practitioners should always consider whether CSE, CCE, county lines and/or trafficking is an issue. If it is, report as follows:

  • If there is an immediate danger to a young person, report this to the police on 999
  • If there is a crime but not an immediate danger to a young person, report this to the police on 101
  • A Safer Referral should be considered and if open, a strategy should also be considered
  • Additionally, a referral to the VEMT Practitioner Group (VPG) should be made in order to problem solve

How to refer to the VEMT Practitioner Group (VPG)?

1. Complete the Tees-wide child exploitation VEMT practitioner screening tool / referral form. The form is also available on TRiX, or by emailing VPG@middlesbrough.gov.uk.
Please note, forms should be completed with partner agencies present so all information is presented.

2. Submit the form to VPG@middlesbrough.gov.uk

Partnership information sharing

Cleveland Police's 'partnership information sharing report' form can be used by professionals working under the safeguarding agenda to inform the police of any information regarding child sexual exploitation, child criminal exploitation and county lines involvement.

Professionals can include names (including nicknames) of suspected perpetrators, locations where exploitation may be taking place, car or vehicle details, locations including online and/or description of individuals seen in suspicious circumstances.

Download the partnership information sharing report form.

The information will then be recorded on the police intelligence system is strictly confidential and source information is and used to better understand the problem of CSE in Middlesbrough and Teesside, and to enable a coordinated response through VEMT.



County lines

A4 county lines awareness poster from the Home Office

In the wrong hands

'In the wrong hands' is a major campaign to fight child sexual exploitation on Teesside. The thought-provoking campaign outlines what child sexual exploitation (CSE) is, the tell-tale signs to look out for, and where to get help or report concerns.

Child exploitation is a serious crime. Victims of sexual exploitation are often unaware that they are being exploited. This type of abuse can happen to any child or young person up to the age of 18 from any background.

View the 'in the wrong hands' toolkit.

Useful contacts


Emergency Duty Team: 01642 524 552

Barnardo's: 01642 300774

Childline: 0800 11 11

Police (emergency): 999

Crimestoppers: 0800555111

Police (non-emergency): 101

Stop It Now: 0808 100 900

Useful websites


Barnardo's works to transform the lives of the UK’s most vulnerable children.

CEOP (formerly the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre) works to protect children from harm online and offline.

NSPCC works to prevent child abuse and neglect.

Thinkuknow teaches children and young people aged 5-17 to identify the risks they may face online and tells them where they can go for support.

Home Office County Lines Partner Pack gives guidance for frontline professionals on dealing with county lines.

Home Office child exploitation disruption toolkit gives disruption tactics for those working to safeguard children and young people under the age of 18 from sexual and criminal exploitation.

Be Space Aware aims to keep all children and young people safe from serious criminal, violent, and emotional harm.



If you need advice or information, please contact the Risk and Resilience team by emailing VPG@middlesbrough.gov.uk or calling 01642 728377.