Tuesday, 11th May 2021

Today’s Queen’s Speech confirmed that in the new parliamentary session, the government will legislate to bring forward the proposals in the New Plan for Immigration.

We are very concerned about the measures, which will affect all child victims of trafficking, including British national children. They will also be particularly detrimental to unaccompanied children who are at significant risk of exploitation.

Additionally, we joined 200+ organisations in raising concerns about the government’s fundamentally flawed public consultation on the plan, which did not meaningfully engage children and young people who will be affected by the proposals. What’s more, there has been no assessment of how the proposals will impact children and young people’s rights and protection.

Read more about our concerns

Online safety for children

The Queen’s speech also confirmed the government’s plans for a new Online Safety Bill, designed to ensure that Internet users, especially children, are protected online.

The Bill aims to create a duty of care to users of Internet platforms including social media sites, in order to ‘make the UK the safest place in the world to be online’.

We welcome the fact that the UK will be among the first to legislate for better protections online but we want the government to ensure children outside the UK are also afforded protections and bring the abuse of children abroad by UK offenders within scope of the Online Safety Bill.

ECPAT UK has long monitored UK national offenders who travel abroad to offend against children or use online platforms to abuse children abroad with impunity.

Risks of online child sexual abuse have been exacerbated by global increases in access to the Internet and increased time spent online during the global pandemic.

Patricia Durr, Chief Executive Officer of ECPAT UK, said

“There is a lot to do to ensure better protection of all children and young people and we welcome the stated intention in this Queen’s Speech on doing better for victims and survivors of abuse - but it has to be joined up. Children are too often re-victimised within our criminal justice and immigration systems, when what is needed is a safeguarding response that put their rights and need for protection as children first.

If the government does not listen to widespread and significant concerns about its immigration plans it will place some of the most traumatised children and young people at even greater risk and put itself in breach of well-established protection standards.

Covid-19 has exposed inequalities and increased vulnerabilities and risks - any national recovery must put protecting, supporting and investing in all children and young people at the core.“


Press contact

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