Internet-related child sexual exploitation inspections (CSE)

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, HMIC 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 undertake 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, in the course of our inspection work, we come across live police operations. We do not make public any material that might compromise current operations or pending criminal trials.

HMIC therefore agreed to postpone further inspection activity 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 inspection activity 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

HMIC expects its 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:

  • look at 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 assist 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 partner agencies. The CSE assessment criteria can be found below.

CSE Assessment Criteria

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