Since 1994, ECPAT UK's targeted and focused campaigns and activities have been successful in improving child protection, including the introduction of new UK legislation and the ratification of relevant international conventions, and in raising awareness about child trafficking, exploitation and the abuse of children by British sex offenders at home and abroad.


In January, we launched our new Youth Advisory Group, comprised of former youth group members and current members with an active interest in campaigning, training professionals, speaking to the media and steering ECPAT UK's strategic direction. The group was formed following increasing interest from young people to get more involved in all aspects of our work and is a significant step towards greater youth participation in anti-trafficking work in the UK.


During Anti-Slavery week in October, members of our youth groups held an event in parliament to launch our new stable futures campaign. At the event, the young people bravely addressed MPs, frontline professionals, lawyers and journalists - speaking out about their experiences in the UK and on their journeys, the challenges holding them back and sharing photos that represent their hopes for the future. 


ECPAT UK's animated short film on child trafficking wins Anti-Slavery Day award

In October, ECPAT UK's animated short film on child trafficking in cannabis cultivation, The Secret Gardeners, won Best film Dealing with Modern Slavery or Human Trafficking at the Human Trafficking Foundation's Anti-Slavery Day Media Awards. The Secret Gardeners aims to raise awareness and tackle the growing issue of Vietnamese children being trafficked to the UK for cannabis cultivation.

120,535 supporters joined ECPAT UK to call on the Government to reform the NRM and demand specialist support for trafficked children

Children in the UK of all nationalities who have been exploited should be guaranteed access to specialist support that helps them to recover from abuse, ECPAT UK supporters demanded in a viral campaign handed to government on Anti-Slavery Day, 18th October 2018. Judith H., a supporter from the UK, said: "This is a major issue. It's on your watch. You have the power to improve the lives of a significant number of children. Just do it Ms Rudd."

Government ratifies the Lanzarote Convention following ECPAT UK campaign

In June, following a decade of campaigning by ECPAT UK, the UK Government ratified the Lanzarote Convention on the Protection of Children against Sexual Exploitation and Sexual Abuse in the UK and abroadThe ratification will allow for greater international cooperation and information‐sharing across borders to investigate and prosecute offenders' sexual crimes against children in the UK and abroad. In addition, the UK will be required to implement preventative measures such as screening, child protection training and the collection of data on convicted offenders.

ECPAT UK's animated short film on child trafficking wins gold medal at New York Festival

The Secret Gardeners, ECPAT UK's animated short film about child trafficking in cannabis cultivation, won the gold medal in the Human Concerns category at the New York Festivals World’s Best TV and Films awards. The Secret Gardeners aims to raise awareness and tackle the growing issue of Vietnamese children being trafficked to the UK for cannabis cultivation.

New film released to raise awareness of child migrants exploited for criminal activity

In April, ECPAT UK released a new film to raise awareness about support for migrant children who are being criminally exploited. Launched at a national police conference about safeguarding children from abroad, the film Behind the Behaviour: identifying the criminal exploitation of migrant children highlights how migrant children who are criminally exploited may not be easily recognised as victims by frontline services in the UK. These children may be afraid to talk about their experiences or present challenging behaviour, and often this leads to them being criminalised instead of receiving the support they need to recover from their trauma. ECPAT UK works with children who have been trafficked into the UK for criminal exploitation and are arrested and imprisoned when they are identified by authorities in the UK.

ECPAT UK's Trafficked Girls Group Assistant, Temi Adekoya, wins Young Leader of the Year Award

ECPAT UK’s Trafficked Girls’ Group Assistant, Temi Adekoya, won the Young Leader of the Year award at London Youth’s annual award ceremony celebrating young people making outstanding contributions to their communities. The Young Leader of the Year award acknowledges a young person under 25 years of age who has demonstrated active involvement in their youth organisation or wider community. Described by the competition judges as one of the toughest categories due to the exceptional achievements of each nominee, Temi was recognised as showing an exceptional commitment to supporting other young people through ECPAT UK’s youth programme.

Developing modern slavery single points of contact (SPOCs)

In February, ECPAT UK partnered with the Human Trafficking Foundation and Shiva Foundation, ran a development day for modern slavery single points of contacts (SPOCs) across London boroughs at the House of Commons. This follows on from the conference in May 2017, which sought to establish SPOCs in every local council to improve local responses to victims of trafficking, following a huge increase of victim referrals in the capital.


ECPAT International awarded Interpol's 'crimes against children' award

Interpol honoured ECPAT International for two decades of work to prevent the sexual exploitation of children around the world, and for advocating for child victims. 

ECPAT UK becomes UK representative of The Code

In November, ECPAT UK became the UK Representative of The Code, an international initiative supporting travel and tourism companies to prevent child sexual exploitation. With offenders frequently using the tourism industry to abuse vulnerable children, the charity is encouraging businesses across the sector to make safeguarding children a priority for responsible, sustainable tourism.

The Secret Gardeners, an animated short film, released to highlight child trafficking in cannabis cultivation

ECPAT UK marked Anti-Slavery Day, 18th October 2017, with the release of an animated film aimed at tackling the growing issue of Vietnamese children being trafficked to the UK for cannabis cultivation. The Secret Gardeners, created by Animage Films and Oscar-nominated animator Erica Russell, aims to inform professionals about the plight of children who are forced by organised crime gangs to grow drugs in houses across the UK but who often face criminalisation and prison.

Mayor of London prioritises anti-trafficking efforts, after pressure from coalition supported by ECPAT UK 

The Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Policing & Crime have answered calls from NGOs to outline their plans to strengthen London’s response to human trafficking, after a staggering 260% increase in the number of victim referrals in the capital. Ahead of a conference co-organised by ECPAT UK to commemorate the commitment, the Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “This is a crime that we can only solve by working together. Modern slavery touches on the work of so many sectors across London and nationally. In light of this, my Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime, Sophie Linden, has established a London Modern Slavery Steering Group which will meet for the first time this summer."


Groundbreaking report on missing children who have been trafficked published by ECPAT UK

In November 2016, ECPAT UK published Heading back to harm, an in-depth report on the growing phenomenon of trafficked children going missing from care. The report, which analysed Freedom of Information data from more than 200 local authorities in the UK, found that more than a quarter of all trafficked children and over 500 unaccompanied asylum-seeking children went missing at least once in the year to September 2015, while 207 have not been found.

ECPAT UK's Debbie Beadle wins Child 10 award 

Debbie Beadle, ECPAT UK's Head of Youth Programme, won a Child 10 award in November 2016 - recognising her outstanding achievements to supporting young victims of trafficking in the UK. The Child 10 awards are awarded to individuals and organisations that are a great example of grassroots initiatives to help children break the cycle of abuse, giving them a platform to build a better future for themselves. 

Nearly 40,000 people support ECPAT UK campaign to hold online offenders financially accountable for online abuse

In 2016, ECPAT UK and 38,599 members of the public petitioned the Justice Secretary Michael Gove MP to introduce a legal financial order to enable child victims of online sexual abuse to claim compensation from their abusers. 


Independent Child Trafficking Advocates trial evaluated by research team featuring ECPAT UK 

After successfully campaigning for the inclusion of the Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTA) provision in the Modern Slavery Act 2015, ECPAT UK supported the evaluation of the first ever pilot scheme in the UK. The final report found that "the specialist ICTA service has been successful as measured in relation to several beneficial outcomes for trafficked children".


Campaign success! Government includes ECPAT UK recommendations in draft Modern Slavery Bill

After sustained pressure from ECPAT UK and partners, the UK Government agreed to include two ECPAT UK campaign calls to protect trafficked children in the Modern Slavery Bill. 

  • The legislation pledges to protect victims of human trafficking from crimes they were compelled to commit by their traffickers, echoing the calls of the more than 70,000 supporters of ECPAT UK’s Modern Slavery Bill campaign launched in December 2013 in partnership with Walk Free.  
  • The Bill also introduces an Anti-Slavery Commissioner after calls from ECPAT UK and other leading charities for the UK to strengthen its response to modern slavery and trafficking.

In a welcome move, the Bill will also include a ’benefit of the doubt‘ clause about children’s age, which ECPAT UK has argued is a necessary part of the new legislation. This will help to ensure that, when there is reason to believe a person is a child but there is no proof of age, agencies treat those without proof of age as children and provide them with the necessary support until an age assessment has been carried out. ECPAT UK will continue to campaign for further provisions in the Bill, including a legal system of guardianship, throughout 2014.

ECPAT UK influences landmark Modern Slavery Bill on protection needs for child victims of trafficking

On 10 June 2014, the UK Government introduced the UK’s first ever draft legislation on human trafficking and modern slavery. ECPAT UK influenced the development of the Bill throughout the drafting process, dating back to December 2013. Two specially appointed committees called on ECPAT to submit evidence on four separate occasions, twice independently as ECPAT UK and twice as a member of the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group.

The Modern Slavery Bill Review Committee and the Joint Committee on the Modern Slavery Bill both incorporated ECPAT UK’s recommendations in respective reports to the Home Secretary. These recommendations included establishing a legal system of guardianship, a specific criminal offence of child trafficking, an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and a non-prosecution clause for trafficked children forced to commit criminal offences. Read the full reports here and here.      

Foreign Secretary urged to help stop the sexual abuse of children in tourism

With the World Cup 2014 fast approaching, ECPAT UK launched a campaign calling on the Foreign Secretary to help stop the sexual abuse of children in tourism, starting with the urgent issue in Brazil. Researchers and child protection experts estimate that there are more than 250,000 child victims of sexual exploitation in Brazil, with many more placed at risk by the influx of more than 600,000 tourists to the country for the World Cup in June 2014. 

By May 2014, nearly 15,000 supporters had taken action, calling on the Government to establish investigative and data collection systems to improve prosecutions of UK offenders and protect children abroad.

Huge public support for ECPAT UK Modern Slavery Bill campaign

In December 2013, the UK Government introduced a draft Modern Slavery Bill in response to years of sustained pressure from campaigners, including ECPAT UK, to improve the UK’s response to human trafficking and modern slavery. From the outset, ECPAT UK expressed concerns about the lack of provisions in the legislation to protect victims of trafficking, particularly children, and launched a public campaign to call for vital protections for trafficked children.

By the end of April, more than 60,000 members of the public had supported ECPAT UK’s calls, including a system of legal guardianship for all trafficked children in the UK, a specific offence for child trafficking and a clause to protect children from crimes they were forced to commit.


ECPAT UK joins network of global anti-trafficking and human rights organisations

In 2013, ECPAT UK joined with international anti-slavery organisation Walk Free to campaign for action on child trafficking in the UK and transnational child abuse by UK offenders abroad. To launch the partnership, ECPAT UK attended an international symposium with leading anti-trafficking and human rights organisations from around the world, such as Coalition of Immokalee Workers (USA), Repórter Brasil (Brazil), Visayan Forum Foundation (Philippines) and Shakti Vahini (India). 

Walk Free is described as a movement of more than 6 million people worldwide campaigning to end modern slavery.

ECPAT International wins world’s largest humanitarian prize

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation awarded ECPAT International $1.5 million in recognition of its pioneering work to end child sexual exploitation.

A prestigious prize jury, including Nobel Laureate Professor Amartya Sen and Princess Salimah Aga Khan, selected the child protection organisation over more than 200 nominees working to alleviate human suffering.

Collaborative youth group launched to support trafficked boys

In October 2013, ECPAT UK and The Children’s Society launched a new partnership project to support boys and young men who have been trafficked to the UK.

The new project draws on the successful model of peer support developed by the ECPAT UK Girls’ Youth Group, an initiative for girls and young women who are victims of trafficking, which provides a safe environment for young people to build confidence and skills, and participate in the process of the change.


ECPAT UK wins key youth work award

On 29th November, ECPAT UK fought off tough competition from hundreds of nominees to take home the prestigious Youth Work Award at the Children & Young People Now magazine’s annual prize ceremony in London.

The ECPAT UK Youth Group, a peer support group for child victims of trafficking, was shortlisted from more than 400 entrants for the Youth Work Award, which is sponsored by the National Youth Agency. The prize is given to the project that has done the most to promote young people’s development to help them achieve their potential.

Progress with Department for Education on guardianship

ECPAT UK, along with NAGALRO and Barnardo’s, held an initial meeting with Tim Loughton MP, Minister for Children and Families, at the Department for Education, on 16 February to discuss guardianship for child victims of trafficking

ECPAT UK has long held the belief that the issue of child trafficking should fall under the remit of the Department for Education and be seen as a child protection issue, not as an immigration issue under the remit of the Home Office. This meeting, agreed to by the Minister in response to our letter in October 2011 (see 2011 section below), therefore represented a significant step forward. Discussions are ongoing to date (May 2012).

Children protected from British sex offenders

On 13 August, the Government finally closed the ‘three-day loophole’ in the Sexual Offences Act (2003) after many years of lobbying by ECPAT UK. This loophole allowed registered British sex offenders to travel abroad for up to three days without having to notify the police of their intention to do so. This put children abroad at risk of abuse. Sex offenders now have to notify the police of all foreign travel plans.

The loophole was closed when the Sexual Offences Act 2003 (Notification Requirements) (England and Wales) Regulations 2012, brought forward by the Home Office on 5 March 2012, came into force. 

ECPAT UK rower conquers Atlantic

ECPAT UK’s Youth Programme Coordinator, Debbie Beadle, completed an unaided row across the Atlantic in late January as part of the Row for Freedom team, a group of five women committed to promoting awareness of human trafficking and raising money for ECPAT UK and The A21 Campaign. Their boat was named The Guardian after ECPAT UK’s campaign for guardianship for child victims of trafficking.

The team, skippered by Debbie, completed this epic 3,000-mile voyage between the Canary Islands and Barbados in 45 days, breaking two world records in the process: ‘The fastest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an all-female team’ and ‘The first five-woman team to row any ocean’.


UK Government opts in to key European anti-trafficking directive

In February, the Prime Minister, David Cameron, announced that the UK will opt in to the EU Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. ECPAT UK vigorously lobbied the Government to opt in to the Directive and supported a petition with Anti-Slavery International, The Independent on Sunday newspaper and campaigning organisation 38 Degrees on the issue.

The Directive specifically calls for ‘a guardian or a representative for a child victim of trafficking in human beings’ (Article 14.2), which directly supports our campaign for a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. It also requires Member States to establish of ‘national rapporteurs' or equivalent mechanisms’ on human trafficking (Article 19) – another ECPAT UK campaign call. 

National Training Centre

ECPAT UK opened a National Training Centre in central London in September. The Centre offers a comprehensive training programme that supports and develops good practice in safeguarding children. Training is based on up-to-date research and evidence, such as case law, the experiences of children, government guidance and legislation.

Petition on guardianship

ECPAT UK and The Body Shop UK handed in a petition with 735,889 signatures at No. 10 and the United Nations in Geneva, calling for a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking as part of a three-year campaign to Stop Sex Trafficking of Children and Young People. The petition was the largest presented to the current UK Government to date (May 2012).

NGO support for guardianship

ECPAT UK persuaded 25 key NGO and two individuals to sign up to our letter calling on the Government to introduce a system of guardianship for child victims. The signatories included UNICEF UK, Amnesty International UK, Barnardo’s, NSPCC, World Vision and the Children’s Commissioners for England, Scotland and Wales. The letter also called upon the Minister for Children and Families, Tim Loughton MP, to meet with ECPAT UK to discuss guardianship. 

The Story Of Affia

Following the success of their 2009 DVD In Our Shoes, the ECPAT UK Youth Group was awarded funding by Media Box to create a film which reflected on the response to child victims of trafficking in the UK. 

The Story of Affia is based on the real-life experiences of the members of the Youth Group. Affia is a young girl from West Africa who is trafficked to the UK for domestic servitude and sexual exploitation. She is then ‘rescued’ by the authorities and meets a range of professionals who try to help her. The film highlights some of the challenges child victims of trafficking face in the UK. The film, which was created, filmed and edited by the Youth Group, was distributed  to all local authorities across the UK.


Anti-Slavery Day introduced

ECPAT UK successfully lobbied the UK Government to introduce an annual UK Anti-Slavery Day.

ECPAT UK supported former MP Anthony Steen’s Private Member’s Bill through Parliament, which became the Anti-Slavery Day Act on 8 April. In July, the Prime Minister, David Cameron MP, announced that Anti-Slavery Day would fall on 18 October every year.

ECPAT UK believes that Anti-Slavery Day provides a great opportunity to shine a light on a largely hidden and brutal crime of human trafficking being committed against children in the UK and overseas today.

ECPAT UK’s work recognised

ECPAT UK was nominated as Charity of the Year by the Centre for Strategy and Communications.


E-learning course on child protection

ECPAT UK and ABTA, The Travel Association, launched Every Child, Everywhere - a free e-learning course on child protection for the travel industry.

The e-learning course focuses on safeguarding children from exploitation in travel and tourism, preventing child exploitation and abuse, including child trafficking. Every Child, Everywhere has been fully endorsed by ABTA, the main travel industry association in the UK, and, in addition, has been mapped against National Occupational Standards for Continued Professional Development points in the ABTA Accredited Travel Professional Training scheme. This interactive, simple to use course consists of three modules:

•    Module 1: Following Child Protection Policies & Procedures 
•    Module 2: Implementing Child Protection Policies & Procedures
•    Module 3: Developing Child Protection Policy and Procedures

Key UN protocol on child rights ratified by UK

ECPAT UK campaigning helped convince the UK Government to ratify the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.

Article 1 of the Protocol declares that states must protect the rights and interests of child victims of trafficking, child prostitution and child pornography, child labour and especially the worst forms of child labour. The remaining articles in the Protocol outline the standards for international law enforcement covering diverse issues such as jurisdictional factors, extradition, mutual assistance in investigations, criminal or extradition proceedings and seizure and confiscation of assets as well. It also obliges nations to pass laws within their own territories against these practices “punishable by appropriate penalties that take into account their grave nature.”

Definitions in the Protocol:
•    Sale of children is any act or transaction whereby a child is transferred by any person or group of persons to another for remuneration or any other consideration
•    Child prostitution is the use of a child in sexual activities for remuneration or any other form of consideration
•    Child pornography is any representation, by whatever means, of a child engaged in real or simulated explicit sexual activities or any representation of the sexual parts of a child for primarily sexual purposes.

ECPAT UK Youth Group influences training of foster carers

The ECPAT UK Youth Group produced a DVD entitled In Our Shoes, highlighting some of their experiences of foster care and including interviews with professionals. 

The 30-minute DVD is an invaluable training tool, used by relevant agencies across the country to train fosters carers and to help them understand better the needs of child victims of trafficking.


Legislation strengthened to protect children abroad from British sex offenders

Due to ECPAT UK lobbying, in July the UK Government withdrew ‘dual criminality’ from the Sexual Offences Act 2003.

This had been an ECPAT UK campaign call for several years and was one of the recommendations in our 2006 report End of the Line for Child Exploitation. The inclusion of ‘dual criminality’ in this Act meant that for extra-territorial legislation to be implemented the offence had to be illegal both in the country where it took place and in the UK. Its withdrawal therefore meant that a UK national could be prosecuted in the UK for a crime committed abroad, even if the offence was not a crime in the country where it was committed. 

E-learning course on safeguarding child victims of trafficking

ECPAT UK produced an e-learning training course, In Your Hands,  for professionals working with child victims of trafficking.

The free course provides professionals with an awareness of the main issues around victim identification and what steps to take to provide support to a child victim of trafficking. 
In Your Hands is also available in two alternative versions for professionals based in Scotland or Wales, referring to the relevant Scottish or Welsh legislation and guidance.

ECPAT UK Youth Group 

ECPAT UK’s Youth Programme Coordinator started a Youth Group for young people (all female, aged 15-21) who have been trafficked to the UK. 

The Group meets once a week and undertakes a range of activities such as learning life skills, advocating for children’s rights in the UK and partaking in social events.


Key European anti-trafficking convention signed by UK

ECPAT UK successfully lobbied the UK Government to sign the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings.

The UK signed the Convention on 23 March, two days before the bicentenary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade. In a symbolic move, the Home Secretary John Reid signed the document at the desk used by the abolitionist William Wilberforce. 

The UK ratified the Convention on 17 December 2008 and it came into force in the UK on 1 April 2009. The Convention sets out measures to protect and promote the rights of victims of trafficking, including standards in relation to identifying victims, providing assistance, putting in place a recovery and reflection period, residence permits, compensation and legal redress, and ensuring any return to the home country is safe and dignified.


ECPAT UK work for children’s rights recognised by UNICEF UK

On 19 July, ECPAT UK was awarded UNICEF UK’s 60th anniversary award for outstanding contribution to children's rights.

UNICEF UK only presents this award once every 10 years. The award is discretionary and is made to individuals and organisations to recognise their exceptional contribution to the fulfilment of UNICEF’s mission for children during the past decade.

The prestigious award was handed to ECPAT UK’s director, Christine Beddoe, by Lord Richard Attenborough and the following citation was read by David Stanton, Chairman of UNICEF UK:

“ECPAT UK is part of an international network of ECPAT groups in over 60 countries – ECPAT stands for End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes. It has been an invaluable partner of UNICEF UK in its work to tackle child trafficking. Integral to UNICEF UK’s End Child Exploitation campaign and more since, ECPAT UK has been tireless in drawing attention to child exploitation and it constantly challenges government and other agencies to respond to the needs of children. Its integrity, focus and effectiveness has seen it become a key influential voice among decision makers. As a result, ECPAT UK has helped achieve significant strides for children’s rights in the UK.”


Training programmes developed in partnership with the UK travel and tourism industry


Stronger UK legislation on child sexual exploitation in tourism introduced

The UK Government amended the Sex Offenders Act 1997 with the introduction of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. ECPAT UK lobbying secured the inclusion of sections in the Act to deal more robustly with sexual offences committed by UK nationals abroad.

For example, Section 114 provided for a civil preventative order or Foreign Travel Order. An FTO enables the courts to prohibit persons who are “qualifying offenders” (those guilty of sexual offences against a child under 16, either in the UK or abroad), from travelling abroad. 

ECPAT work to protect children recognised

ECPAT was presented with the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow Award for the development of the Code of Conduct to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation in Tourism.

ECPAT was selected from nearly 80 entries in 38 countries.


Legislation to prosecute British nationals who abuse children abroad introduced

ECPAT UK successfully lobbied the UK Government to introduce extra-territorial law in the Sex Offenders Act 1997.

Extra-territorial law gave UK courts jurisdiction over a range of sexual offences committed by UK nationals abroad, including those committed against children.


ECPAT UK’s work recognised

ECPAT UK was the winner of Best Public Information Campaign by an NGO 1996 – an award presented at the Annual Media Event of the One World Broadcasting Trust.