Following the government’s response to recommendations made by the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act, ECPAT UK welcomes the implementation of a number of its recommendations to improve support for children. However there has been a missed opportunity for meaningful change that would ensure all potential victims are protected, by bringing the Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship service in line with guardianship in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The Review was commissioned by the government to review the effectiveness of the Act and recommend improvements. The government appointed Maria Miller MP, Frank Field MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss, who held roundtables and received written responses from NGOs including ECPAT UK before making 80 recommendations in its final report to the Home Secretary in March.

ECPAT UK is pleased that some of our recommendations have been accepted by the government. We welcome government recognition that the legislation requires improvement to adequately support child victims, however we emphasise the need for further changes if the government is to demonstrate a real commitment to what has been stated as one of its top priorities.

Debbie Beadle, Director of Programmes at ECPAT UK, said

‘We welcome the acceptance of some of our recommendations regarding the Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTG) service, notably that the cases of children who go missing will be kept open by ICTGs until the child is found.

‘However there has been a missed opportunity to ensure all children affected by exploitation are identified by professionals and protected from further harm. Providing the ICTG service to all unaccompanied children, in line with guardianship in Scotland and Northern Ireland, would ensure all potential victims are protected and prevent the exploitation of children who are at risk.

‘Additionally, we urge the government to implement our recommendation to remove the 18 month time limit for support for children who require longer-term care, and continue support up to the age of 25 subject to their circumstances, in line with existing leaving care services. It is extremely important that, at this vital transition age, young people receive support and guidance.

‘The government must now ensure changes to the Act provide meaningful improvements in support for vulnerable children.’

Abbie*, a young person supported by ECPAT UK’s youth programme for trafficking survivors, said

‘The government needs to act and take seriously that there are children who fall through the cracks in the system. How is it fair to ignore children who are not yet identified as victims?’

*Name changed to protect the young person's identity

ENDS

Press contacts

Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager, ECPAT UK, [email protected], 0207 607 2136

Debbie Beadle, Director of Programmes, ECPAT UK, [email protected], 0207 607 2136

Notes

Debbie Beadle is available for interviews and comment. Please get in touch using the contact details above.