Tuesday, 15th June 2021

The government has announced the launch of a scheme piloting local decision making on children’s status as victims of trafficking. ECPAT UK welcomes the launch of the pilot, which has incorporated a number of our key recommendations.

Currently, when children are referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the UK’s system for officially recognising victims of trafficking – decisions about whether or not they are a victim are made by Home Office officials.

The pilot will test whether decision making about whether a child is a victim of trafficking is more appropriate within existing safeguarding structures in local authorities.

This means that decisions about whether a child is a victim will be made by the local safeguarding partners of social workers, police and health so that decisions are aligned with existing child protection and support.

According to the accompanying updated statutory guidance on how to identify and support victims, the pilot will be carried out in:

  • Cardiff Council
  • Glasgow City Council
  • Hull City Council
  • London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
  • London Borough of Islington (Joint with London Borough of Camden)
  • Newport City Council (Joint with Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouth, and Caerphilly)
  • North Lincolnshire Council (Joint with North East Lincolnshire Council)
  • North Yorkshire County Council (Joint with City of York)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (Joint with Westminster City Council)
  • Solihull Council

ECPAT UK has long called for all decisions about child victims to be carried out by local, multi-agency safeguarding professionals in each child’s best interests so that their views and wishes are understood and taken into account.

Last August, we worked with the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner to launch a review examining what works in existing multi-agency decision making frameworks to help inform thinking and the development of this approach to local decision making focused on children’s safeguarding.

Patricia Durr, CEO of ECPAT UK, said:

“We welcome the launch of this important pilot to test decision making about child victims of trafficking within existing child safeguarding frameworks in order to provide each child with the protection, care and support they need.

We are pleased to see such a wide range of sites included within the pilot scheme as well as the inclusion of a number of recommendations from our joint report with Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner; particularly the duty to seek out the views of the child’s Independent Child Trafficking Guardian to ensure children’s voices are heard and their wishes are advocated for.

This is a positive step towards a more integrated approach to children's rights and needs for protection which we hope will lead to greater provision of specialist care to help trafficked children overcome the trauma of exploitation and prevent re-trafficking and other forms of abuse.

We will be closely monitoring the pilot to ensure all decisions and procedures are in line with the best interests of the child and to see its impact on outcomes for trafficked children.”


Press contact

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