The Trafficking of Children

The trafficking of children is a rapidly growing global problem. It is defined as ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children by means of threat, force or coercion for the purpose of sexual or commercial sexual exploitation or domestic servitude.’

A Growing Problem

Trafficking is defined as ‘the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of children by means of threat, force or coercion for the purpose of sexual or commercial sexual exploitation or domestic servitude’ (AFRUN/NSPCC).

It is a rapidly growing global problem and is a violation of human rights affecting all communities. There is evidence that large numbers of children and young people, from different parts of the world, are subject to such exploitation within the UK or that the UK is used as a step in the process, with children and young people arriving here and at a later point being trafficked to another part of the world.

Indicators

A number of factors identified by the initial assessment may indicate that a child or young person has been trafficked. In all such cases the first priority is to ensure the safety of the child or young person.

  • The child or young person may present as unaccompanied.
  • Child or young person may go missing.
  • Multi use of the same address may indicate that this is a sorting house.
  • Contracts, consent and financial inducement with parents may become apparent.
  • The child or young person may hint at threats to family in their country of origin.
  • Talk of financial bonds and the withholding of documents.
  • Befriending of a vulnerable child or young person.
  • False hopes of improvement in their lives.

Some children and young people are also trafficked for the purpose of domestic labour. These may be less obvious but may be picked up during a private fostering assessment or because someone notices that a child or young person is not in school. Children and young people who enter the country apparently as part of re-unification arrangements can be particularly vulnerable to domestic exploitation

Action

If any suspicions are raised that a child or young person is being trafficked, or at risk of this, immediate action to safeguard the child or young person is required. This includes urgent liaison with the Police. Planning of the investigations should be within a Strategy Meeting, for the immediate protection of the child or young person and to address possible crimes having been committed.

Any child or young person from abroad who goes missing should be reported to the Police and Immigration Department immediately. Inter-agency procedures in respect of missing children/young people are to be applied. See 5.2.23 Children Who Go Missing.

Risk of Being Trafficked for Child or Young Person Looked After

Where a child or young person from abroad becomes the responsibility of children’s social care, the degree of risk to the child or young person of possible abduction should be assessed and should inform placement choice. Foster carers/residential staff should have an understanding of the child/young person’s situation and of the risk of exploitation and trafficking and be clear about what is expected of them to ensure the safety of the child or young person.

Anyone approaching children’s social care and claiming to be a potential carer, friend or member of the family of the child or young person should be thoroughly investigated. The local authority's Asylum Seekers Team - where one exists - should be contacted for any relevant information they may have. The possibility that the child or young person is, or may be, vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking must be considered and checked out. Agreement from appropriate Managers and Panels should be sought before allowing the child or young person to transfer to the person’s care.