Existing literature has revealed that professionals who support complainants of sexual exploitation are at great risk of experiencing psychological distress and vicarious traumatisation (VT). Additionally, as knowledge surrounding child sex exploitation (CSE) has expanded over recent years, collaborative working has become key. The current study aimed to examine the lived experiences of those working with trauma clients in relation to VT and multi-agency teamwork. In 2014, Northumbria Police introduced a multi-agency hub known as Operation Sanctuary in order to investigate child exploitation, vulnerability and modern-day slavery. The present study recruited 14 members of staff working in Operation Sanctuary who participated in semi-structured interviews. Data collected was analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) and consequently, four subordinate themes and nine sub-themes emerged. The results demonstrated how exposure to traumatic material can be detrimental to professionals’ wellbeing and highlighted various coping strategies needed to manage such trauma. Participants disclosed experiencing a number of challenges whilst supporting trauma clients and recognised the importance of utilising organisational resources and personal strategies to minimise the risk of VT. Furthermore, the analysis identified a number of advantages and disadvantages of working collaboratively with other professionals in child abuse investigations. The findings mirror those identified within previous literature. Explanations for this, together with suggestions for future research are discussed in detail. The full report is confidential to the authors and Northumbria Police.
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|Published - 1 Jun 2016