The High Court has found that a child victim of trafficking was failed by the London Borough of Barnet and the Home Office after receiving no specialist support for several years. 

The case involved a now 22-year-old Eritrean young person with refugee status in the UK, referred to as AM, who suffered repeated episodes of violent exploitation and trafficking as a child, including being held captive, tortured and forced into domestic servitude by a criminal gang in Libya. He was referred as a potential child trafficking victim into the National Referral Mechanism at the age of 16, yet he received no specialist support from the local authority looking after him to assist in his recovery nor when he transitioned to adulthood by the Home Office.   

The Judge found that the Home Secretary owes AM back-payments for a period when the Home Office incorrectly claimed it did not need to provide him with trafficking-related financial support.  

In a decision handed down on the 1st of December Mr Justice Lane ruled that Barnet Council did not consider whether AM was a child victim of human trafficking and did not take this into account when assessing his needs, therefore failing to meet its duties under the Children Act 1989 and other care regulations and that this constituted a breach of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (ECAT) and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).    

ECPAT UK provided expert evidence in support of AM, citing that the needs of child victims of trafficking are not being adequately met by local authorities.  

Patricia Durr, CEO of ECPAT UK, said “We welcome the judgement in the case of AM and the recognition of how severely he was failed as a child victim of trafficking and a looked after child, by both the local authority responsible for his care and the Home Office. 

It is an all too common experience that child victims of trafficking are failed, that their needs are overlooked and that there is no specialist support offered to them that recognises their experiences of abuse as victims of some of the most horrendous crimes.  

Local authorities are required to undertake comprehensive assessments of children’s needs and provide as any reasonable parent would. The Home Office is required to provide support to victims of trafficking.  We are pleased that AM will receive back-payment of financial support due to him, but current practice by both Local Authorities and the Home Office means that support for child victims remains a postcode lottery and will continue to result in further serious detriment to children achieving stable futures.” 

AM was represented by Carolin Ott and Tessa Gregory of Leigh Day who instructed Shu Shin Luh of Doughty Steet and Grace Capel of Garden Court.  


Notes to editors: 

  1. ECPAT UK press contact: [email protected] and 020 7607 2136 

  1. Previous ECPAT UK report detailing how local authorities and the Home Office are not properly supporting child victims