Skip to main content

Keeping Safe? An analysis of the outcomes of work with sexually exploited young people in Wales

The ‘Keeping Safe?’ project, is a three year study funded by the Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales, conducted by a team of researchers in School of Social Sciences, led by Dr Sophie Hallett.

The aim of this study is to conduct an original investigation into the outcomes for children and young people assessed as being ‘at risk’ of sexual exploitation.

Download the report

Project materials

A range of free visual materials have been developed from the research, including a series of ‘Check your thinking cards’.

These have been created as a way of sharing core findings and key messages from the research, and have been designed for use as a reflective/discussion tool for practitioners and professionals working with children and young people.

They can be used in pairs, teams or multi-agency settings to facilitate discussion and shared learning, but they can also be used individually.

To find out more or to request the materials please contact

Cards and text by Sophie Hallett. All graphic design and illustrations by Laura Sorvala

The project

The relatively recent introduction of child sexual exploitation (CSE) to social care policy and practice means that there has been little opportunity to consider the effectiveness of assessment tools, new interventions and service responses, in relation to the outcomes for young people experiencing these harms and in the receipt of such support.

The research built on a unique opportunity to track the outcomes of the first young people in Wales to be assessed for their risk in relation to CSE, ten years ago.

We analysed the casefiles of 205 children aged between 9 and 18 years old who were involved with a children’s services department in a local authority in Wales in 2006. They all had their cases reviewed in 2006 as part of an exercise for developing the Sexual Exploitation Risk Assessment Framework (SERAF) in Wales.

We looked at their background characteristics, living circumstances, victimisation experiences, family and peer relations, complex needs, interventions and their impact, and outcomes at and after case closure.

We tracked what happened to these young people over the next ten years, what actions were taken, what interventions were mobilised, if there were missed opportunities for intervention, and what worked (and, conversely, what didn’t) to reduce risk and create positive outcomes.

We also spoke to young people who are currently involved with social services and about whom there are concerns over sexual exploitation, and we also spoke to those involved in supporting them. This included residential workers, foster carers, and social workers. We spent time in a children’s home too.

We wanted to find out what they thought about the effectiveness of interventions, and what could be done to better support and protect young people at risk of CSE. We also wanted to find out the challenges and opportunities involved in their work with young people. To support the participation of young people in the project, creative methods of interviewing were used, such as drawing and word activities.

An advisory group comprising multi-agency practitioners and policy makers guided the development of the research, its recommendations and the development of creative tools and materials for use as tools in practitioner training and intervention work with young people.

Young people were also involved throughout the research process as a steering group who provided advice on all aspects of the research project and its design.


If you would like any further information on the project please email Dr Sophie Hallett or phone +44 (0)29 2087 6909.

The project team


Dr Sophie Hallett

Senior Lecturer


Professor Amanda Robinson

Professor of Criminology
Co-Director of the Security, Crime and Intelligence Innovation Institute
Director, Universities' Police Science Institute

Janna Verbruggen

Janna Verbruggen

Assistant Professor in Criminology, VU University Amsterdam


Dr Kelly Buckley

Senior Research Fellow, Y Lab