Posted: 17 October 2013

Getting better support for trafficked children

Every year hundreds of children are being trafficked into the UK. They are forced into a range of horrific abuse, including domestic servitude, forced criminality and sexual exploitation.

Back in September we published our Still at Risk report in partnership with the Refugee Council which reviewed the support available for trafficked children in this country. 

The report, commissioned by the Home Office found that whilst some improvements have been made with helping trafficked children, too many opportunities to protect them are being missed because of a culture of doubt and suspicion among professionals.

On 15 October Lord McColl and Baroness Butler-Sloss hosted an event in Parliament to discuss the findings of the report and how the issues that it raised about these vulnerable children could be taken forward.    

We are delighted that the Home Office Minister, James Brokenshire MP who has recently taken responsibility for trafficking spoke at the event about the government’s upcoming legislation on trafficking and modern slavery.

Our event in Parliament hosted by Lord McColl and Lady Butler Sloss to discuss the findings of the Still At Risk report and how we could take the issues that it raised about these vulnerable children forward

Modern Day Slavery Bill

Mr Brokenshire told MPs, Peers and those working to protect trafficked children that the government plans to introduce new powers to clamp down on trafficking and those who try to traffic people across borders.

The Modern Day Slavery Bill will include measures to help investigate, prosecute and punish traffickers. It is likely to be introduced next year and it is really welcome that the government are focussing on an industry which abuses so many vulnerable people.

Over the next few months, the Centre for Social Justice and Frank Field MP will be consulting with stakeholders on what should be in the upcoming Bill. We will be submitting evidence to the consultation for all separated migrant children (including potential victims of trafficking) to be appointed a guardian an independent advocate – to help them understand their rights and guide them through the complex legal processes they are involved in. We believe that an independent guardian would help secure housing, education and legal support to stop trafficked children falling back into the hands of their exploiters.

We are looking forward to working with the government on their proposals and already there are many people who are going to be involved in this work including the Children’s Commissioner Dr Maggie Atkinson and Fiona Mactaggart MP (Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery) who both attended the event. 

Already many Peers led by Lord McColl have taken this issue up with government by tabling an amendment to the Children and Families Bill which proposed to introduce guardians for trafficked children. This was debated yesterday in the House of Lords and it had support from Peers from all the main parties.

Trafficked children are very vulnerable. Our Still at Risk report showed that they need help to get them the support that they need and are entitled to. Over the next year we will be working with MPs, Peers and the Government to ensure that these vulnerable young people are better supported and therefore better protected.

By Michaela Neild - Policy team

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