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Press releases archive


ECPAT UK recommendations included in parliamentary report on child protection

ECPAT UK’s concerns over missing trafficked children and the need for a system of guardianship for child victims have been highlighted in the House of Commons Education Committee’s recent report into the child protection system in England. 

As recognised experts in the field, ECPAT UK was asked to give oral evidence to the Select Committee last year. The subsequent report, ‘Children First – The child protection system in England’, published on 5 November, states: “ECPAT advocates a system of guardianship for separated children who have been trafficked: A system of guardianship for children who have been trafficked would ensure that they have the one person they can trust, who can act in their best interest and assist the child navigate through the welfare, criminal, legal and immigration systems […] They have no family in the UK, but also no-one with ‘parental responsibility’, a legal concept enshrined in British law. This means that children have to instruct their own solicitors.”

The report acknowledges our concern that child trafficking is a child protection concern of the highest order. It is not, as the Government often frames it, an immigration issue - it is child abuse requiring complex child abuse investigations. ECPAT UK also stated that National Referral Mechanism officials lack child protection expertise, and as immigration officials, can treat children as immigration cases, rather than within a child protection framework. 

The Committee recognised ECPAT UK’s concern that children found in criminal settings need to be identified as children and victims first, rather than criminals. It also states: “Peter Davies of ACPO and CEOP accepted that “police services and police officers [...] tend to categorise people and if someone is in the offender category, it is sometimes hard to categorise them at the same time as a victim”. He assured us that CEOP and the Serious Organised Crime Agency’s Human Trafficking Centre were working together to develop better practice on this.” ECPAT UK provides specialist training to police officers, among others, on child trafficking and looks forward to seeing improved practice on the front line of victim identification. 

In particular, the report states: “The issues raised by trafficked children, and possible changes to the guardianship system, require far more detailed attention than we have been able to give in the course of this inquiry. We share ECPAT’s concerns about the number of children going missing once identified by the authorities and the likely numbers of those who are not discovered in the first place. The Government must act faster and more effectively work with others to address this.”

ECPAT UK looks forward to seeing concrete action from the Government following these recommendations, in particular regarding establishing a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. 

9th November 2012 


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ECPAT UK is the leading expert voice on child trafficking in the UK and we offer a comprehensive training programme focused on safeguarding young people from trafficking, modern slavery, and transnational abuse. To find out more visit our training page

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