CYCJ respond to Jay Review

CYCJ strongly supports the Jay Review’s recommendations built on the 3 pillars of:

  1. A single, cohesive legal code designed to tackle the criminal exploitation of children
  2. Coordinated policy and practice at a local and national level.
  3. Investment, research and whole-system learning

To address Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE) across the UK, CYCJ gave evidence to the review in November 2023. There is an urgent need to reframe CCE in the UK as a child protection concern rather than a criminal issue. Children who are exploited are being criminalised before their circumstances of abuse are recognised, facing prosecution rather than receiving support (Dixon, 2023). This approach not only neglects the nuanced understanding required to address the roots and repercussions of their exploitation but also overlooks the severe and varied forms of harm they endure, from violence to sexual abuse. With CCE’s indicators mirroring those of other exploitations, it is important that child protection measures are consistently applied, ensuring that children are viewed as victims in need of protection, and not as perpetrators who are subsequently held responsible for and consenting to their own exploitation. To do so would be in contravention of the UNCRC and contradicting The Lord Advocates Instructions (2024).

Scotland’s response to CCE highlights a broader, systemic failure to protect exploited children, exacerbated by inadequate data collection and a lack of cohesive policy and practice across agencies (Dixon, 2023). Despite some progress, such as the introduction of ‘Practitioner Guidance on Criminal Exploitation,’ a significant gap remains in effectively identifying, supporting, and protecting these children. The disparities in how CCE is addressed compared to other forms of exploitation, like Child Sexual Exploitation, underscore the necessity for a unified approach that prioritises early intervention, recognises the profound harm these children face, and firmly anchors CCE within the realm of child protection, ensuring a comprehensive and empathetic response to this hidden crisis.

Fiona Dyer, CYCJ Director says: “In Scotland we must protect children who are criminally exploited, by recognising that they are victims first and need support.  Until we have consistent policy and practice across Scotland, children are being left in vulnerable situations and exposed to abuse and criminalisation, which needs to stop”

For more information see:

Written Evidence for Jay Review of CCE – Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (

Understanding CCE In Scotland – Children and Young Person’s Resource – Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (

CYCJ Publishes Scoping Review of Child Criminal Exploitation – Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice

Info Sheet 108: Introduction to CCE in Scotland – Children and Young People’s Centre for Justice (


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