'Scandal' of child trafficking victims in care going missing slammed

 

The level of child victims of human trafficking taken into care only to go missing again is scandalous, MPs were told today.

Only a "very few" local authorities were aware of the numbers of children they have in care who are trafficking victims, Peter Bone MP told the all-party parliamentary group (APPG) on human trafficking.

And those local authorities that took the matter seriously claimed a "staggering" 80 per cent to 90 per cent of child victims ultimately went missing, he added.

The APPG was debating the first report of the inter-departmental ministerial group (IDMG) on human trafficking, which revealed a rise in the number of people being trafficked into the UK.

Mr Bone, who is co-chairman of the APPG on human trafficking, said child victims taken into care were at risk of being trafficked again "at the level of a scandal".

"How we treat child victims of trafficking is the key issue facing this Government against this great evil," he said.

"Under current legislation, children are treated like any other at risk child, under the primary control of local authorities," he added.

He went on: "Child victims are being placed in care home with other non-trafficked children where security and staff observation is limited."

And added: "This leads to children being trafficked once more. That is the level of a scandal."

Mr Bone told the debate that local authorities often reported children as missing but failed to investigate the possibility of them being trafficked again.

He said: "There is confusion over who is ultimately accountable for trafficked children's welfare."

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) estimates there are approximately 300 child trafficking victims in the UK per annum.

The IDMG report on human trafficking found that 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) last year.

Of these, 712 were adults and 234 were children.

This compares with 710 referrals in 2010, of which 524 were adults and 186 were minors.

But Mr Bone said the numbers of those being trafficked was likely to be far higher.

The report said that organised criminal gangs within countries including China, Nigeria, Vietnam, Slovakia and Romania now pose the greatest threat to the UK, where they exploit their victims for sex, labour and domestic slavery.

PA

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