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"I was lost; my childhood was stolen. But no-one seemed to want to help me." – Sophie*, 15, who was sexually exploited for two years

Thousands of children each year like Sophie* are identified as victims of modern slavery and trafficking in the UK. They come from more than a hundred countries, including from within the UK itself. These children are known to be in situations of sexual exploitation, forced labour, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude – and they are some of the most vulnerable in our society, with many being alone in the UK with no family.

Those suspected of being trafficked qualify for support under child protection laws in the UK. However, the level of this support provided is often severely lacking and hugely inconsistent – as highlighted recently in the BBC's Three Girls documentary about sexual exploitation in Rochdale.

Children who have suffered in situations of abuse require high levels of dedicated and specialist support in order to meet their needs, help them to rebuild their lives and become young adults. Find out more about our joint proposal for NRM reform with the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group.

Campaign update

Thank you to everyone who has added their voice to our ongoing campaign to reform the NRM and provide specialist support to child victims of trafficking. With your support, we can continue to create change for children and young people who have been trafficked.

Some of our latest campaign developments include working with the Home Office's child trafficking group to create proposals for making the NRM more ‘child friendly’ and contributing to an inquiry launched by Frank Field MP into the long term support for victims of modern slavery. Our contribution to the enquiry highlighted the specific issues facing children - in particular the lack of specialist support available for child victims of trafficking.

However, as demonstrated by the recent public attention on the case of Stephen, a former child victim of trafficking who faces removal to Vietnam, we are still a long way from securing the changes to the NRM that are desperately needed. 

Click below to join ECPAT UK and Care2 and send an email to the Home Secretary to demand guaranteed specialist support for trafficked children.


If it is serious about its promise to "defeat modern slavery", the Government must overhaul the current system of identification/support for victims of trafficking – the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). In doing so, it should ensure the identification process is embedded within existing multi-agency child protection structures and provide sufficient resources to allow local authority areas to deliver specialist care and support.

*real name and image changed to protect her identity.

This petition is also available at Freedom United