Funded by Health and Care Research Wales, this two-year project builds on the findings from the study, ‘County lines: a co-ordinated Welsh community response to child criminal exploitation’.


Child criminal exploitation refers to children and young people who are manipulated or coerced into criminal activity for the personal gain of an individual, group, or organised criminal gang (All Wales Practice Guide, 2019). While any child can be exploited, children with unmet needs and those with low self-esteem and confidence are at heightened risk (Radcliffe et al., 2020). Risk factors have been found at the individual, interpersonal, community and societal levels (Maxwell and Wallace, 2021). Despite continued efforts to prevent and divert children away from exploitation, there is currently a lack of evidence about the effectiveness of different service pathways and interventions for improving the outcomes for exploited children. This project will provide insight into referral routes, service provision, and how best to support criminally exploited children.

Activities and Methods

The project began in October 2022 and includes two main workstreams:

WORKSTREAM ONE: Case file analysis

Case file analysis will be undertaken in children’s services and youth offending teams from two local authorities. This data will be used to identify criminally exploited young people and explore their referral, service pathways and outcomes. Data will be linked to administrative datasets held in the SAIL Databank, Swansea University. Specifically, these datasets include education, health, offending and social care to produce detailed individual-level service chronologies. Data linkage will enable the identification of commonalities and differences for a group of criminally exploited young people in relation to their characteristics and service pathways.

WORKSTREAM TWO: Case studies

Drawing on workstream one, case studies will be produced to explore young people’s lived experience of referral, engagement, service effectiveness, and professional decision-making. This will be used to inform the individual-level service chronologies and to create composite case studies that can be used to explore:

• Young people’s experiences and perceived benefits and drawbacks of different service provision.
• Practitioner decision-making processes, how they assess information and what influences the actions they take.


No findings at this time

Lead Person

Principal InvestigatorNina Maxwell
Research Associate, CASCADEDorottya Cserzo

Academics and Researchers

Safeguarding Service Manager: Adults, Children, Education, VAWDASV, Newport City CouncilFinn Madell
Research Associate, CASCADESophie Wood
Research Officer, SAIL Databank, Swansea UniversityTing Wang
Related SchoolsN/A
Related partnersSAIL Databank
Swansea University –
FundersHealth and Care Research Wales
Related publicationsN/A
Related links
Related documentsN/A