Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'The government’s draft Modern Day Slavery Bill is critical to tackling trafficking in the UK and we welcome the Home Secretary’s commitment to this bill.
'But for the fight against this abuse to be truly effective, child victims of trafficking, who are subjected into a range of horrific abuse, including domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, must get the support they need to be kept safe.
'It is vital that these children have someone they can build a relationship with and trust from the moment they are found. The government has an important opportunity to make these children safe by providing all unaccompanied children -- including potential victims of trafficking -- with guardians.
'Too often, these children are punished rather than protected because they have been found with false papers or forced into a range of illegal work. As a result, some are being sent to adult prisons and immigration detention centres rather than being given safe accommodation with full-time care. This must stop.
'Without guardianship being included in the bill, trafficked children will not get the help they need. It is vital these vulnerable children are treated first and foremost as children in need so they can recover from their abuse in safety and thrive.'
For more information, please contact Beth Herzfeld in The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or 07775 812 357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.
Notes to editors
- The UK Human Trafficking Centre’s annual assessment of the scale of trafficking reports that a total of 2,255 potential victims of human trafficking were identified in 2012 in the UK. Of these, 549 - or 24% - were children and the age of 99 potential victims was unknown. But this figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg given that many child victims will not come to the attention of agencies that can help them. Even where they do, they may not be correctly identified as victims of a crime. The assessment highlights that 65% of the total number of potential victims of trafficking appears not to have been recorded on the National Referral Mechanism – the government’s central system for identifying victims of trafficking.
- To find out more about the need for more effective support for trafficked children see Still at Risk: A review of support for trafficked children
- The Children’s Society wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways. We give a voice to disabled children, help young refugees to rebuild their lives and provide relief for young carers. Through our campaigns and research, we seek to influence policy and perceptions so that young people have a better chance in life. Someone who acts on their behalf and can help guide them through the extremely complex system. These children deserve to be kept safe so they can recover from the trauma they have suffered and rebuild their lives.