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Press releases archive

 

ECPAT UK's new report calls on government to make child trafficking part of history

On the occasion of the first UK Anti-Slavery Day, (18th October), ECPAT UK has published a report highlighting the alarming incidence of child trafficking in the UK today, and the failings of UK authorities to combat the problem. The report, entitled Child Trafficking in the UK: A snapshot, provides a concise overview of this alarming form of child exploitation, which requires urgent attention and action.

The report suggests there is a serious disparity between the suspected numbers of cases of trafficked children and the action taken in response by UK authorities. The report draws attention to the fact that between 1st April 2009 and 30th June 2010, 215 (26%) of the 843 cases of potential victims of human trafficking referred under the National Referral Mechanism related to children. These children came from 33 countries; the highest numbers of children referred into the system were from Vietnam and China. These are shocking figures which prompt further analysis of whether these children, who have faced appalling abuse and neglect, are getting access to justice and support, and question whether the UK is apprehending and prosecuting traffickers and adequately protecting these children from further harm.

ECPAT UK Director Christine Beddoe commented, “The government decision to introduce a national Anti-Slavery Day is important and welcome and provides a real opportunity for the UK to reflect on historic and contemporary forms of exploitation. However, if 215 children have been referred to the National Referral Mechanism by police, local authorities and immigration officials, then surely there should be a consistent number of police investigations across the country. But this is not the case and ECPAT UK is at a loss to know why child trafficking is not being investigated or why police inquiries are not being progressed."

“Despite government acknowledgements that child trafficking is a form of child abuse the current response is inadequate in protecting and supporting these children and the government’s claim to be making the UK a hostile environment for traffickers seems doubtful.”

There are however pockets of good practice across the UK which are detailed in the report within the police and children’s social services; this practice has usually evolved as a result of outstanding individuals who have taken the initiative to combat child trafficking.

On Anti-Slavery Day, ECPAT UK award Operation Golf with the annual Children Champion Award 2010 for efforts to combat child trafficking. The Metropolitan Police’s Operation Golf is a Joint Investigation Team with Romania which has been working to uncover the trafficking of children for benefit fraud and street crime in the UK. This initiative, mostly funded by the European Commission, has substantially improved the way children forced to beg and steal have been protected as victims. 

18th October 2010

ENDS

Notes to Editors
ECPAT UK is a leading children’s rights organisation campaigning against child trafficking and child exploitation. ECPAT UK is a UK registered charity (Registered Charity  1104948) and the UK national representative of the global ECPAT movement with partner organisations in over 70 countries around the world campaigning against the exploitation of children.

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for identification of victims of trafficking was introduced in April 2009 as part of the UK’s obligations under the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, ratified by the UK in 2008.

PRESS CONTACT
Christine Beddoe, Director
020 7233 9887 or 07906 341 889

Hannah Pearce, Policy & Advocacy Manager
020 7233 9887 or h.pearce@ecpat.org.uk

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