Wednesday, 18th November 2020

The Home Office has released its evaluation of its Child Trafficking Protection Fund including our Partnership Against Child Trafficking (PACT) project, conducted by the University of Bedfordshire, finding the project provided an “important pathway” to change the ways in which social care can reduce children’s vulnerability to trafficking and re-trafficking and contribute to improving local authority practice.

ECPAT UK set up the innovative PACT project to help improve local responses to child trafficking and exploitation and was selected by the government to deliver the project as part of its Child Trafficking Protection Fund

The project supported local authorities to improve identification, safeguarding and responses to child trafficking and build their capacity for multi-agency working with other agencies involved in children’s care.

We partnered with four local authorities, providing them with a specialist consultancy service and creating tools to help them respond effectively to children who have been trafficked and those at risk of going missing and being exploited.

The package of support included a case file audit to identify gaps in the identification of child victims and opportunities for improved response, a policy audit to review the policies and procedures the local authority follows with regard to identifying and safeguarding potential victims, and bespoke training on child trafficking for social workers and children’s support staff, tailored to the specific needs of the local authority.

Acknowledging the achievements of this ambitious project, the evaluation said:

“The knowledge generated by ECPAT… in addition to the ways in which they established the conditions for local authority engagement, networking and relationship building, offered an important pathway to change in the ways in which social care can reduce children’s vulnerability to trafficking and re-trafficking, improve their responses to the care and protection of trafficked children and contribute towards the systemic improvement of local level practice.”

Key findings
The evaluation highlighted a number of key findings across the different projects delivered under the Child Trafficking Prevention Fund by ECPAT UK and organisations including CORAM, Unseen, The Children’s Society, Barnardo’s, AFRUCA and the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

  • The importance of peer support group work, such as that provided by ECPAT UK to child victims of trafficking, in successfully engaging children and supporting their recovery and wellbeing.
  • Youth participation, the creation of safe social networks and opportunities to input into policy and practice were a way of reducing stigma and isolation and supporting children’s recovery, reintegration and knowledge of child trafficking.
  • There is a need for training of professionals and opportunities for multi-agency collaboration tailored according to local need but nationally coordinated.
  • More investment is needed in longer term, innovative projects to be able to have a bigger impact on the UK’s response to trafficked children.
  • There were synergies between the findings of the projects funded by the Child Trafficking Protection Fund and the findings of the Independent Child Trafficking Guardians service evaluation, as both found evidence of the effectiveness of working across three areas to counter child trafficking: the creation and exchange of new knowledge, building professionals’ capacity and awareness, and providing direct support to trafficked children. ECPAT UK has long called for the full, national roll out of the guardianship service due to its well-established ability to support trafficked children and prevent them from further harm.
  • Additionally, there is a need for trauma and culturally informed support and advocacy for child victims of trafficking – in line with our calls for specialist provision for all trafficked children.

Patricia Durr, CEO of ECPAT UK, said

“We welcome the findings of the evaluation and were pleased that our PACT project provided such a demonstrable benefit to local authority teams working to prevent and respond to child trafficking.

“It’s clear that there is a need to scale up these initiatives so that all trafficked children across the country benefit. This can only be done with proper investment in staff, training and resources.

“Every day we train frontline workers we see their passion and commitment to acting in children’s best interests in the face of considerable systemic challenges. These findings show how organisations like ours contribute to systemic change and better protection for trafficked children and just what is needed to reach all children and young people at risk .”

Book onto our training courses or contact Phil to enquire about bespoke training and practice development for your team.


Press contact

Sinead Geoghegan, Communications and Media Manager, [email protected], 07402 113 985