29 Nov 2014

In response to the Government's announcement on its modern slavery strategy, Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society said:

'The Government’s announcement of its strategy to tackle slavery in the UK is an important step forward. But for it to be effective, it is vital it makes sure children trafficked – both within and to this country –  get the help they need.

'Children are being forced into a range of horrific abuse, including domestic work and sexual exploitation. Too often, they are not being correctly identified and are instead being unjustly criminalised.

'It is vital that child trafficking is made clear in law so that these children are treated as victims, not criminals. We know from our work that too often trafficked children are sent to prison preventing them from being able  to recover in safety from the abuse they have suffered.

'It is critical that all children found in this country on their own are assigned an adult who acts on their behalf from the moment they are identified. This will help to make sure that child victims of trafficking are identified and are protected from further exploitation and abuse. The Government's plans to introduce guardians is an important step in achieving this, but it is important that they have the legal authority to act on the child's behalf to make sure these children have the protection they need.
  
'The Government has an historic opportunity under the Modern Slavery Bill to make sure that all children at risk are kept safe from the horrors of slavery.'

Media enquiries

For more information, please contact The Children’s Society media team on 020 7841 4422 or 07775 812 357 or email media@childrenssociety.org.uk  For out-of-hours enquiries please call 07810 796 508.

Notes to editors

  • 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 has helped change children’s stories for over a century. We expose injustice and address hard truths, tackling child poverty and neglect head-on. We fight for change based on the experiences of every child we work with and the solid evidence we gather. Through our campaigning, commitment and care, we are determined to give every child in this country the greatest possible chance in life.