Child protection response to trafficking victims ‘inadequate’

A new report said there was a "lack of awareness" on the issues facing children who have been exposed to trafficking

Photo: Nenov Brothers/Fotolia

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.

More from Inform
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.

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2 Responses to Child protection response to trafficking victims ‘inadequate’

  1. Gerald November 16, 2016 at 10:46 am #

    And then the Public Sector wonder why we are questioning their competency and why we are desperate for an alternative, continuing this blatantly defective system is ruining the lives of 1000’s of Children, why is this being allowed ?? what has to happen before this is sorted ?

    Where are the whistle blowers, what is Safeguarding doing ,why is the Police not more active ? just who is responsible ?

  2. Ann Edwards November 18, 2016 at 8:52 am #

    Unless you have worked in this area of social work you may not understand how difficult it is to monitor the movements of young people – whatever their circumstances! In respect of the young people in question, yes, some will return to the clutches of the network of traffickers. Some will do so to protect their families, including those trafficked by their own parents. And yes more can be done and should be done but we cannot lock them up! They all have mobile phones and access to the internet and having reached the UK experiencing danger and needing to live on their wits at a young age, they may be highly skilled in evading authority. And many will have family or friend contacts in the UK which they have not revealed to the authorities. It is natural that they turn to someone from their own culture especially if language is an issue rather than someone who is unfamiliar – however concerned and well trained. And cash strapped local authority children’s services struggle to find foster carers, put on training and allocate staff for all of the children for whom they are responsible. Could we do more in the way of training volunteers to be befrienders?