A new report by the Council of Europe’s Group of Experts on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (GRETA) has again urged the United Kingdom to improve protection of child victims of trafficking.

Despite some improvements, the UK continues to fail to identify trafficked children and prevent them from going missing from local authority care, according to GRETA.

The report provides strong evidence and support for ECPAT UK’s campaigns, calling on the UK government to take steps to address the problem of children going missing from local authority care and ensure that possible child victims of trafficking are assigned a legal guardian as expeditiously as possible.

Recalling the recommendations made in its first report, GRETA also urges the UK to: 

  • Improve the exchange of information on missing unaccompanied children between police forces and local authorities

  • Ensure that child victims who may be at risk of re-trafficking can be accommodated in another local authority area to ensure effective protection from such risk

  • Train all professionals working with child victims of trafficking to recognise and respond appropriately to their individual needs and the best interests of the child

  • Ensure full compliance with Article 10(3) of the Convention concerning age assessment and provision of special protection measures (paragraph 210)

The report arrives one month in advance of ECPAT UK’s forthcoming research into missing and child trafficking in the UK, which is expected to reveal a number of startling failures in the UK child protection system. 

It highlights further concerns over the underreporting of child trafficking and the continuing lack of safe accommodation for children who are suspected or known to have been trafficked.

Moreover, the report urges the UK to step up efforts to ensure that victims of trafficking are provided with adequate support and assistance, according to their individual needs, beyond the period of 45 days, with a view to facilitating their recovery and guaranteeing their protection.

(Image courtesy of The Dark Figure: Mapping modern slavery in Britain)