Charities join child support bid

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The Independent Online

Two leading charities will be able to refer children they believe have been trafficked to trained specialists for support under new plans.

Barnardo's and the NSPCC have signed up to the network which shares information about potential child victims between local authorities, the police and the UK Border Agency.

The move comes ahead of tomorrow's Commons debate on the Government's plans to opt in to the EU Directive on Human Trafficking.

The network, known as the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), has handled 1,500 referrals since it was created two years ago, leading to 900 individuals being granted support and time to recover, the latest figures showed.

Andrew Flanagan, NSPCC chief executive, said: "The secretive nature of this illegal trade means there is no clear picture of the scale of human misery it brings.

"But through the work of our Child Trafficking Advice and Information Line we know that many children end up in appalling circumstances, being forced into slave labour or becoming victims of sex abuse.

"It is also good news that the Government has decided to opt-in to the Human Trafficking Directive which will help the UK stay in line with child protection legislation across the rest of Europe."

Immigration Minister Damian Green added: "We must not become a soft touch for the evil people who run the trade in human beings.

"The UK is a world leader in tackling human trafficking and providing support for victims which is why I am pleased that leading children's charities Barnardo's and the NSPCC have agreed to join an expanding network of organisations who are working in collaboration to combat this horrendous crime."