There is “limited availability of specialist provision” for migrant children who are identified as potential victims of modern slavery by local authorities, a new report has found, strengthening ECPAT UK’s campaign call for urgent reforms to the way in which the UK responds to trafficked children.

The independent report, commissioned by the Home Office and Department for Education, highlighted that there are significant gaps in support for these children at the local authority level, including limited availability of specialist services, lack of resources and lack of specialist knowledge. It also found that limitations in data collection and information sharing are creating a barrier to proper support for these children.

The failings echo those evidenced by ECPAT UK in our major research into children going missing from local authority care and give further support for our ongoing campaign to ensure all children who have been exploited, of all nationalities, can access the specialist support that they need to stay safe and to recover from their abuse.

In order to improve the response, local authorities could commission specialist training and services and develop specialist roles to support victims of modern slavery, the report noted. It also recommended that all unaccompanied minors be risk assessed for modern slavery and that data collection responses should be improved to help reduce instances of trafficked children going missing.

The report, which focused on non-European Economic Area (EEA) migrant children found that more could be done by central Government to support local authorities, in particular, by “supporting effective commissioning of specialist services, raising awareness about modern slavery and facilitating learning between local authorities.”

Recent evidence from frontline professionals working with child victims of modern slavery showed that the majority felt the current system of identification and support needed to overhauled, with only 8% believing it was always effective and only 7% saying it always helped to ensure an appropriate safeguarding response to children who have been exploited.

Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns at ECPAT UK, said: “The Government’s own review has recognised that there is an unacceptable deficit in specialist care for unaccompanied migrant children, many of whom are victims of modern slavery and trafficking.

“The Government must act now to resource specialist support for these vulnerable children in order to protect them from further abuse and to help them recover from the trauma they have suffered.”

ENDS

Press contacts

Bharti Patel, CEO, ECPAT UK: 020 7607 2136, [email protected]

Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns, ECPAT UK: 07890 120834 [email protected]