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Press releases archive

 

Latest assessment of human trafficking reveals gaps in Government response

21 October 2013

IDMG second annual reportECPAT UK today expressed its disappointment with the second annual report of the Inter-Departmental Ministerial Group on Human Trafficking (IDMG), calling it a missed opportunity for the Government to assess the mounting crisis of child trafficking in the UK.

With evidence sessions to inform the Government's forthcoming Modern Slavery Bill commencing in two weeks, ECPAT UK has warned that a vital review of Government measures and actions to protect child victims of trafficking must still be carried out.

Central to ECPAT UK's concerns is the IDMG report's ommission of a number of serious issues affecting child victims of trafficking, such as the lack of a system of legal guardianship for victims, the impact of legal aid proposals on trafficked children and the continuing criminalisation of children who are prosecuted for crimes they are forced to commit.

“Children are continually put at risk by authorities’ failure to provide specialist and adequate safeguarding measures to this group of highly vulnerable individuals,” said Bharti Patel, CEO of ECPAT UK.

“Among the gaps in the IDMG’s recommendations, one of the most significant is the omission of a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. Such a system would ensure that each child victim of trafficking is provided with a person to advocate for their rights and make decisions in their best interests.”

The IDMG has responsibility for overseeing and assessing the UK’s efforts on human trafficking, including child trafficking, and in its second annual report – published on Anti-Slavery Day, 18 October 2013 – attempts to provide an assessment of human trafficking in the UK in 2012. However, according to ECPAT UK, rather than producing a systematic analysis of the situation, the IDMG’s report simply recycles data from this summer’s United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) strategic assessment on human trafficking.

In an attempt to review progress made on convictions, the report highlights the case of Odosa Usiobaifo, a Nigerian man sentenced to 14 years for the trafficking of Nigerian teenagers for sexual exploitaition. Tragically, the two girls he was exploiting, aged 14 and 15 at the time, went missing from UK care. Usiobaifo then retrafficked them to Spain using false passports. One of the girls was refused entry in Spain and returned to the UK. The other is still missing. 

But Chloe Setter, Head of Advocacy, Policy & Campaigns for ECPAT UK, has said that the Government has failed to ask fundamental questions about its safeguarding response in this case.

"In highlighting the case of Odosa Usiobaifo, the Government is clearly aware of the situations facing these vulnerable children. The question the group should have asked and analysed is how was it that these two girls were able to go missing from care in the UK and board planes to Spain on false passports?

"Clearly, the IDMG should be analysing the systems that are continuing to fail vulnerable children both in the UK and those travelling from abroad. Unless these policies are scrutinised, Government awareness-raising of the issues will be seen as empty gestures.”

About ECPAT UK

ECPAT UK has been campaigning for 20 years to protect children everywhere from child trafficking and child sexual exploitation.

About the ECPAT UK Youth Group

The ECPAT UK Youth Group is a peer support group of young women and girls who are victims of trafficking. The group meet on a weekly basis to support each other, gain valuable life skills and develop participatory projects which reflect on the UK response to child trafficking. Last year the ECPAT UK Youth Group won The Children’s and Young Peoples award for their work. http://www.ecpat.org.uk/media/ecpat-uk-youth-group-wins-coveted-youth-work-award

Read here about our new partnership project to support boys and young men who have been trafficked to the UK.

About child trafficking in the UK

In 2012 alone, there was a 12% increase in the number of children identified as potential victims of trafficking for the purposes of exploitation, a total of 549. Overall, the UKHTC report identified 2,255 potential victims of human trafficking in the UK, up from 2,077 in 2011.

The most prevalent exploitation types for children believed to have been trafficked were sexual exploitation 152 (28%) and criminal exploitation 132 (24%). Child potential victims were most likely to be trafficked from Vietnam (103, 19%), Nigeria (78, 14%), Slovakia (43, 9%), Romania (39, 7%) and the UK (38, 7%). A majority of UK national children trafficked internally, 84%, were found to be potential victims of sexual exploitation.

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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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