12 Sep 2017

Lucy Leon, manager of The Children’s Society’s Rise service, which supports boys and young men in London who have been trafficked – more than two-thirds of whom are Vietnamese – said:

'These trafficked children and young people may suffer horrific abuse, often culminating in them being found cultivating cannabis or working in a nail bar.  We know from our practice that this can be just the latest phase of a terrifying journey in which they have experienced several forms of abuse which can also include domestic slavery and sexual exploitation.

'It is crucial that the Government and statutory agencies do more to ensure victims are identified and that they receive the specialist support they need to stay safe and recover from their trauma rather than being criminalised.

'Our project workers sadly encounter some truly distressing stories, including of children being taken into care only to be tracked down by their abusers and re-trafficked, as highlighted in the report.

'The Children’s Society would like to see these young people placed in care in an area away from their traffickers and for agencies to work together to swiftly develop long-term safety plans including intensive one-to-one support to help prevent them going missing.

'We are also calling for better training for frontline practitioners including social workers and the roll-out of the current child trafficking advocate pilot scheme across the country to help ensure all decisions have children’s best interests at heart. 

'All unaccompanied children, including trafficked children, should also be given an independent guardian in line with international and European law.'

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