Publication produced by the Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre (UK) on behalf of the Home Office and the Border and Immigration Agency. The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is affliated to the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and works to protect children from sexual abuse and hold offenders to account.
The report’s findings illustrate significant concerns about child trafficking into and within the UK and go some way in explaining the level of current knowledge.
This scoping exercise has also begun to examine the work being carried out by specific sectors and agencies in the UK in regard to child trafficking. It is clear that much good work by police forces, Children’s Services, the Border and Immigration Agency and NGOs is taking place. There are some excellent examples of good practice including the positive application of child safeguarding procedures and agencies using their initiative to raise awareness amongst their staff and to provide training.
In the voluntary sector a number of research initiatives have been undertaken in this field. Within each sector’s respective role, improvements could be made in order to support progress at a national level. A fundamental element to this is that all matters regarding children should be wholly contextualised within a general child protection environment. General children’s safeguarding strategies and policies need to continue being strengthened to better respond to child trafficking cases.
This means, for example, that cases of missing children should be screened by police to check for any possibilities of trafficking; that Local Authorities facilitate all child protection procedures to be fully accessible for all children; that children entering and those who have entered the country in suspicious circumstances are better identified and screened by the immigration service; and that NGOs and statutory agencies are able to work even better together.
Some migrant children are at great risk of falling into exploitative circumstances. Better identification of these children is integral in progressing our combined multi-agency response to child trafficking, from both a child safeguarding and protection and a criminal justice point of view.
This necessitates a greater awareness of child trafficking at all levels and across sectors; better joined up working both within and across all sectors; more resources to provide specialist and general child protection initiatives for ‘at risk’ children; more specifically tailored training of all practitioners; improved will amongst agencies and sectors to tackle the problem; and an integral change in culture and approach to ‘at risk’ migrant children.
With the advent of the UK Action Plan on Human Trafficking, growing awareness surrounding the issues around child trafficking and the launch of the UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) the turning point for an overall change in responses has been recognised and is progressing. This scoping research on the current level of knowledge on child trafficking is only the first step - a baseline survey - from which future steps and actions can take place.