The wider child protection response to child victims of trafficking is “inadequate”, a new report has suggested.
A report by ECPAT UK analysed how unaccompanied asylum-seeking children who had been trafficked fared in local authority care. More than a quarter of 590 children suspected or identified as trafficked had gone missing at least once, the report found.
Of the total 4,744 unaccompanied children in care, 13% went missing at least once, data from 74 local authorities showed. But a “worrying lack of consistency” in the way councils identified and recorded trafficking victims meant the true number missing could “be far higher”, the charity said.
Inform Children’s new child trafficking knowledge and practice hub provides practice guidance for social workers on how to identify and support victims of child trafficking, and outlines the steps which can be taken in international inquiries. Inform subscribers can view the hub by clicking here.
“Poor data collection and recording at a local level is deeply concerning and suggests that the UK’s wider child protection response to child victims of trafficking, in particular, is inadequate,” the report said.
“We have found that there is much more that could be done to keep these children ‘visible’ in the system, to prevent them from going missing and to respond effectively in order to keep them safe from further harm.”
The “lack of awareness” of the issues facing these children should be addressed through specific training, the report recommended.
“To ensure that care providers understand and respond to the needs of children effectively, frontline professionals working with children must be trained to an appropriate level with child protection training on trafficking/modern slavery.”
It added that risk assessments “must be thorough, timely and responsive, and shared appropriately with relevant agencies, both to inform care planning and to guide the response to missing incidents for all trafficked, unaccompanied and separated children”.
A free Community Care webinar tomorrow (17 November) will discuss how social workers can better identify and support victims of child trafficking. Swati Pande, assistant manager of the NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice Centre, will also outline the steps to take in international inquiries. To register, click here.