Since 1994, ECPAT UK's targeted and focused campaigns and activities have been successful in improving child protection, including the introduction of new UK legislation and the ratification of relevant international conventions, and in raising awareness about child trafficking, exploitation and the abuse of children by British sex offenders at home and abroad.


Campaign success! Government includes ECPAT UK recommendations in draft Modern Slavery Bill
After sustained pressure from ECPAT UK and partners, the UK Government agreed to include two ECPAT UK campaign calls to protect trafficked children in the Modern Slavery Bill. 

  • The legislation pledges to protect victims of human trafficking from crimes they were compelled to commit by their traffickers, echoing the calls of the more than 70,000 supporters of ECPAT UK’s Modern Slavery Bill campaign launched in December 2013 in partnership with Walk Free.  
  • The Bill also introduces an Anti-Slavery Commissioner after calls from ECPAT UK and other leading charities for the UK to strengthen its response to modern slavery and trafficking.

In a welcome move, the Bill will also include a ’benefit of the doubt‘ clause about children’s age, which ECPAT UK has argued is a necessary part of the new legislation. This will help to ensure that, when there is reason to believe a person is a child but there is no proof of age, agencies treat those without proof of age as children and provide them with the necessary support until an age assessment has been carried out. ECPAT UK will continue to campaign for further provisions in the Bill, including a legal system of guardianship, throughout 2014.

ECPAT UK influences landmark Modern Slavery Bill on protection needs for child victims of trafficking 
On 10 June 2014, the UK Government introduced the UK’s first ever draft legislation on human trafficking and modern slavery. ECPAT UK influenced the development of the Bill throughout the drafting process, dating back to December 2013. Two specially appointed committees called on ECPAT to submit evidence on four separate occasions, twice independently as ECPAT UK and twice as a member of the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group.

The Modern Slavery Bill Review Committee and the Joint Committee on the Modern Slavery Bill both incorporated ECPAT UK’s recommendations in respective reports to the Home Secretary. These recommendations included establishing a legal system of guardianship, a specific criminal offence of child trafficking, an Anti-Slavery Commissioner and a non-prosecution clause for trafficked children forced to commit criminal offences. Read the full reports here and here.      

Foreign Secretary urged to help stop the sexual abuse of children in tourism

With the World Cup 2014 fast approaching, ECPAT UK launched a campaign calling on the Foreign Secretary to help stop the sexual abuse of children in tourism, starting with the urgent issue in Brazil. Researchers and child protection experts estimate that there are more than 250,000 child victims of sexual exploitation in Brazil, with many more placed at risk by the influx of more than 600,000 tourists to the country for the World Cup in June 2014. 

By May 2014, nearly 15,000 supporters had taken action, calling on the Government to establish investigative and data collection systems to improve prosecutions of UK offenders and protect children abroad.

Huge public support for ECPAT UK Modern Slavery Bill campaign
In December 2013, the UK Government introduced a draft Modern Slavery Bill in response to years of sustained pressure from campaigners, including ECPAT UK, to improve the UK’s response to human trafficking and modern slavery. From the outset, ECPAT UK expressed concerns about the lack of provisions in the legislation to protect victims of trafficking, particularly children, and launched a public campaign to call for vital protections for trafficked children.

By the end of April, more than 60,000 members of the public had supported ECPAT UK’s calls, including a system of legal guardianship for all trafficked children in the UK, a specific offence for child trafficking and a clause to protect children from crimes they were forced to commit.