Children's Society responds to tougher penalties for trafficking

By staff writers
October 24, 2013

A leading children's charity has welcomed the UK government's announcement about tougher penalties for trafficking, made on Anti-Slavery Day last week, but has also called for more concerted action.

“The announcement of harsh penalties for traffickers is an important step forward," said Matthew Reed, Chief Executive of The Children’s Society. "But for the fight against this brutal crime to be effective, the victims of trafficking must get the support they need to be kept safe.

“Too many trafficked children, who are subjected to a range of horrific abuse, such as domestic servitude and sexual exploitation, are not getting the protection they need to keep them safe from further exploitation and abuse, including being re-trafficked.

“To be truly effective in tackling trafficking, the government must make sure all unaccompanied children, including potential victims of trafficking, are treated first and foremost as children in need and are given a guardian to make sure their rights are protected.

"These children deserve to be kept safe so they can recover from the trauma they have suffered and rebuild their lives,” said Mr Reed.

The UK Human Trafficking Centre’s annual assessment of the scale of trafficking reports that a total of 2,255 potential victims of human trafficking were identified in 2012 in the UK. Of these, 549 – or 24 per cent – were children and the age of 99 potential victims was unknown.

However, this figure is likely to be the tip of the iceberg given that many child victims will not come to the attention of agencies that can help them, say researchers. Even where they do, they may not be correctly identified as victims of a crime.

The assessment highlights that 65 per cent of the total number of potential victims of trafficking appears not to have been recorded on the National Referral Mechanism – the government’s central system for identifying victims of trafficking.

The Children’s Society "wants to create a society where children and young people are valued, respected and happy. We are committed to helping vulnerable and disadvantaged young people, including children in care and young runaways." It seeks to give a voice to disabled children, to help young refugees to rebuild their lives, and to provide relief for young carers.

* See: 'see Still at Risk: A review of support for trafficked children':


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