Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society, said:
'We welcome the government’s moves to increase the protection of trafficked children. The announcement of a trial system of specialist legal advocates and the requirement for local authorities to make sure trafficked children’s needs - and those of unaccompanied asylum-seeking children - are prioritised, mark a significant breakthrough in protecting them.
'The Children’s Society has long been calling for every trafficked child to be recognised first and foremost as a child in need and not as an "immigration problem". Too often, when they come into contact with the authorities, they have been treated with suspicion and doubt. This has left many without the support they need to recover and at risk of further abuse and exploitation.
'To be fully effective, the system of legal advocates needs to be provided to all unaccompanied children and secured in law under the Modern Day Slavery Bill.'
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
- Trafficked children are subjected to a range of horrific abuse, including forced criminality and domestic work. 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.
- The government consultation on the draft regulations and statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children was launched today (29 January 2014).
- 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.