ECPAT UK has teamed up with Border Force staff at Heathrow to raise awareness of child trafficking through the UK’s busiest airport on the sixth annual Anti-Slavery Day (18 October).

For the second year running, the ECPAT UK team will join immigration staff at the border to inform passengers and airline staff about children who are trafficked into the UK and exploited sexually, in criminality, forced labour and domestic servitude.

This Sunday marks six years since the Prime Minister introduced the Anti-Slavery Day Act 2010, following a campaign by anti-trafficking organisations, including ECPAT UK.

2015 has been a significant year for anti-trafficking campaigners, with the introduction of important legislation to combat modern slavery in England & Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. Internationally, campaigners have welcomed the landmark inclusion of a goal to end the abuse, exploitation, and trafficking of children in the UN’s new Sustainable Development Goals.

ECPAT UK is proud to have played a role in all of these developments, having successfully campaigned for a system of guardianship for trafficked children to  be included in legislation in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and England and Wales, among other measures. As a result, children now have better legal protection from trafficking than ever before. However, in a globalised economy where poverty and inequality continue to make children vulnerable to exploitation, it is clear that much more needs to be done to end the scourge of modern slavery. 

In the first three months of this year alone 198 children were referred to the National Referral Mechanism – the system that identifies victims of trafficking in the UK. Many children and adults who have been trafficked pass through airports undetected, which is why ECPAT UK has developed a training programme for Border Force across the UK to train staff on how to identify and safeguard children at risk of abuse and exploitation.

Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK, said:

“Anti-Slavery Day is an important opportunity for people across the UK to come together and take a stand against human trafficking and forced labour. It is apt that we mark this day at Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport. Our airports are at the frontline of our fight to end child trafficking, and it is only by raising awareness among both the public and border staff that we can ensure that at-risk children are properly protected”.

Join us in our fight to end child trafficking. You can help us reach our goal of protecting all children from trafficking and exploitation by making a donation here through ECPAT UK’s JustGiving page. 

To find out more about how you can get involved visit the Anti-Slavery Day website.