Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Child criminal exploitation : a new systemic model to improve professional assessment, investigation and intervention

Barlow, Craig Harvey


Craig Harvey Barlow


Simon (Simon T.) Green

Gerry Johnstone


Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) means coercive control of a child in order for them to commit crimes on the behalf of another. Often, a child that is a victim of criminal exploitation is not recognised as such when they come to the attention of criminal justice and child safeguarding authorities.

This thesis challenges the assumptions which underpin the tactical and strategic responses of professionals, and criminal justice and child safeguarding organisations. It provides a new theoretical model, which could be used for extending and improving the range of responses to the problem by analysing it as a pattern that emerges from the interactions between the child, the perpetrators of the exploitation and the environments in which they both exist.

Drawing upon diverse extant theories to generate an emergent, constructivist model CCE (which I have called “The Circles of Analysis”), the questions that are addressed in this thesis are:
 What are the components and mechanisms that maintain the relationships between the child, their environment and the perpetrators that lead to criminal exploitation?
 Precisely how can the relational understanding of child criminal exploitation, proposed in this thesis, result in better strategic and tactical responses by organisations concerned with safeguarding children and pursuing and prosecuting offenders?
 Can the theoretical model for CCE proposed in this thesis support and improve professional judgement and decision making in relation to safeguarding children at risk of criminal exploitation?

Through novel use of focus groups as a method of “market testing” the viability of the Circles of Analysis concept with practitioners, the final iteration of the model was coproduced with research participants. The result is a model that reflects professionals’ experience of CCE and has practical applications. It supports identification and analysis of CCE, aids professional judgement and decision making and can improve collaborative safeguarding interventions.


Barlow, C. H. (2019). Child criminal exploitation : a new systemic model to improve professional assessment, investigation and intervention. (Thesis). University of Hull. Retrieved from

Thesis Type Thesis
Deposit Date Feb 22, 2021
Publicly Available Date Feb 23, 2023
Keywords Criminology
Public URL
Additional Information Department of Criminology, The University of Hull
Award Date Oct 1, 2019


Thesis (7.2 Mb)

Copyright Statement
© 2019 Barlow, Craig Harvey. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

You might also like

Downloadable Citations