The Children’s Society’s statement on the Joint Committee’s report on the Draft Modern Slavery Bill
Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'The Joint Committee’s recommendations are welcome and crucial to protecting trafficked children, who all too often are over-looked and neglected, leaving them vulnerable to further abuse.
'Making child trafficking clear in law and ensuring that the victims of this brutal crime are not treated as criminals, would help protect these children and make them more visible to those who are supposed to be supporting them. We know from our work that currently, too many trafficked children are being unjustly criminalised and sent to prison and detention centres, denying them their right to recover in safety from the abuse they have suffered.
'The Committee’s recommendation for legal advocates is also vital to make sure that trafficked children get the support they need. While we welcome this, we strongly urge that all children who are found on their own in the UK also get this help, as they do in other European countries. It is critical that these children – including those fleeing war and torture – have an adult on their side to help them through the asylum process. They need someone to make sure they are treated as children in need and given safe accommodation with full-time care to protect them from exploitation and abuse.
'It is vital the government listens to the committee and accepts these recommendations. The Modern Slavery Bill is a landmark opportunity to make a real difference to the lives of all of these children and keep them safe. It is too important an opportunity to miss.'
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.