In response to the House of Lords' vote this afternoon on the Immigration Bill, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'Today’s landmark decision to provide trafficked children with independent guardians marks a significant step forward in protecting some of the most vulnerable children in the UK. But it is also crucial this support is made available to other children who find themselves alone in this country.
'Thousands of children are found each year on their own, including many who are fleeing war and violence. With no adult to protect their interests, many have been left at risk of abuse or facing a hostile climate of suspicion and doubt, which denies them the help and protection they need.
'This important move will help make sure that trafficked children are treated first and foremost as children in need. It will help keep them safe from a host of dangers, including being unjustly criminalised or put in adult accommodation. It will mean they can recover from the abuse they have suffered and feel safe. It is vital the government accepts this amendment and secures the provision of guardians in law.'
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 by The Children’s Society and Refugee Council, commissioned by the Home Office.
- To find out more about guardianship, see The Indicative Costs and Efficiencies of Guardianship by The Children’s Society and Unicef UK.
- 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.