This article draws on data collected from a qualitative study designed to assess the effectiveness of an early intervention programme aimed to raise awareness of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) among young people. The programme was implemented by a large police force area, referred to as Shireland. Drawing on semi-structured interviews with practitioners implementing safeguarding policies within the police service, youth and social welfare work designed to support young people, we focus on the mobilisation of perceptions of risk and vulnerability as they translate in professional practice via a specific preventative initiative. More specifically, we wish to examine the extent to which blurring occurs between constructions of ‘risk’ and ‘vulnerability’ in relation to practitioners’ understandings of the dangerousness of young people’s behaviour. In our analysis, we draw attention to a palpable tension apparent in the interview narratives of those involved in delivering the programme, between expressed understandings which on the one hand universalise vulnerability and, on the other, extricate specific risk factors.