Social workers who suspect child trafficking must act fast

Social workers who believe children have been trafficked into the UK must act immediately and not wait for their suspicions to be confirmed, an expert has said following a Unicef report on trafficking from south Eastern Europe.

Christine Beddoe, director of Ecpat (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes) UK, said the report by Unicef and Terres des Hommes, published yesterday, showed it was “critical” for UK social workers to identify victims of trafficking early on.

The report, Action to Prevent Child Trafficking in South Eastern Europe, highlighted problems in tackling trafficking from Albania, Moldova, Romania and Kosovo.

Mike Dottridge, the author of the Unicef report, said lack of training, poor resources and cultural attitudes were preventing social workers in south Eastern Europe from helping trafficked children.

Dottridge also said social workers in the region were reluctant to intervene in family affairs and had a cultural tolerance of domestic abuse.

“The idea that social workers have a role to check on domestic abuse in the private sphere is not commonly accepted,” he said, “even by government-administered social workers.”

The report, which includes information gained through interviews with child victims, stresses the role of social workers and the police as part of a synchronised system to tackle child trafficking.

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