Wednesday, 22ndMay 2024 

The government has published the evaluation of changes to the Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) service. ECPAT UK urges a reversal of the suspension of post 18 support considering the evidence of their own evaluation.  

The evaluation considered the implementation of two recommendations made in the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act (2015). One of the recommendations piloted was the introduction of post 18 ICTG support to young people following their 18th birthday to support their transition to adulthood. The second pilot provided for one-to-one support to child victims who have a figure of parental responsibility for them in the UK. The latter group had been removed from direct provision when the Home Office amended the model in October 2018 to a ‘Regional Practice Coordinator’ role which support practitioners rather than children themselvesa change assessed in a previous evaluation. 

The evaluation found there is a clear need for both changes and recommends their national roll-out across all sites. In particular, the report found the Post-18 Workers improve the transition from child to adult services for supported children and was seen as crucial for young people to ensure consistent support, making it less likely they would go missing and/or be re-trafficked. 

In February 2024, the Home Office announced a drastic change to the ICTG model to a needs-based hybrid service for children receiving direct support delivering a combination of face-to-face and remote sessions. These changes were made without external consultation    nor notice to practitioners or the Home Affairs Committee which had been considering these provisions in their inquiry into Human Trafficking. The reasons provided by the government to justify the change was: “This decision is based on the need to balance financial commitments and not for reasons related to the performance of Barnardo’s as a supplier. 

The Home Office also announced the provision for children with parental responsibility to receive direct support in exceptional circumstances would be extended to all ICTG sites, a welcome commitment to roll out one of the two recommendations evaluated in this report.  

There has been no public announcement by the Home Office regarding the discontinuation of the post 18 role within the ICTG service, yet confirmation was received via email to ECPAT UK following inquiries made by the organisation. This reversal is another change made without the input of stakeholders and in direct contradiction to the findings of the Home Office’s own evaluation which found that the role added value to the existing support available to young adults and provided consistent support during a difficult transition period.  

The Home Office stated in their confirmation this role had been terminated that The post-18 support pilot will not be included in the 2024/25 model. The Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract is in place for adults and individuals transitioning out of the ICTG service are supported to access this.” Yet, a recent briefing of the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group (ATMG) which ECPAT UK jointly drafted found that in 2022, only 13% of children turning 18 in the National Referral Mechanism were referred for support under the Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract, and only 6% went on to receive support. 

ECPAT UK strongly urges the Home Office to reverse of the discontinuation of post 18 support, particularly considering the findings of their own evaluation showing overwhelmingly positive benefits and need as well as the stark figures highlighted by the ATMG briefing. 



Press contact