Social workers and students completing the social work degree across the UK will soon be given training on human trafficking, the government has announced.
The Home Office has awarded more than £70,000 in grants to the NSPCC, Stop the Traffik, Eaves, Thames Reach and the Counter Trafficking Bureau to provide training to those professionals most likely to encounter victims of trafficking in their day-to-day work.
The aim is to improve awareness and understanding of trafficking and to help professionals identify potential victims and give information on the practical support available, such as independent legal advice and counselling.
Experienced anti-trafficking practitioners will also provide information on referring suspected victims to support agencies including the UK’s victim identification and support system, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
Students will be given training as part of their course, while formal training programmes and workshops will be integrated into practising social workers’ professional development modules and delivered in Cardiff, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton and London.
Immigration minister Mark Harper said: “We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking, with more work than ever before to prosecute criminals and stop organised gangs in their tracks.
“But we are not complacent and training for frontline professionals is vital in order to identify and protect those at risk of harm.”
John Cameron, head of the NSPCC’s helpline, added: “This funding will help us train professionals who form the crucial first line of defence against this dreadful crime.
“It’s an extremely positive and welcome move by the government which will help strengthen child protection and bolster the battle against trafficking.”
Raising awareness among frontline professionals was a key objective set out in a report by the government’s Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group in October 2012.
Strengthening action in this area also supports the introduction of the EU directive on human trafficking, which comes into effect from April 2013.
In 2011, 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to the NRM. Of these 712 were adults and 234 children, up from 524 and 186 respectively in 2010.