Child trafficking victim decisions to be taken away from Home Office in new scheme

The Government has announced the launch of a scheme piloting local decision making on children’s status as victims of trafficking.

16/06/21

Child trafficking victim decisions to be taken away from Home Office in new scheme

A pilot scheme will take decisions about whether a child is a victim of trafficking away from the Home Office, the Government has announced.

Currently, when children are referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the UK’s system for officially recognising victims of trafficking – decisions about whether they are a victim are made by Home Office officials.

The pilot will test to see if decision-making about whether a child is a victim of trafficking is more appropriate within existing safeguarding structures in local authorities.

This means that decisions about whether a child is a victim will be made by the local safeguarding partners of social workers, police, and health so that decisions are aligned with existing child protection and support.

The new pilot will be carried out in local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales in various regions.

Campaigners had been calling for all decisions about child victims to be carried out by local, multi-agency safeguarding professionals in each child’s best interests so that their views and wishes are understood and considered.

Every Child Protected Against Trafficking (ECPAT UK) worked with the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner last Summer to launch a review examining existing multi-agency decision making frameworks to help inform thinking and the development of the new approach to local decision-making focused on children’s safeguarding.

Patricia Durr, CEO of ECPAT UK, welcomed the launch of the pilot, which included key recommendations suggested by the charity – particularly the duty to seek out the views of the child’s Independent Child Trafficking Guardian to ensure children’s voices are heard and their wishes are advocated for.

“This is a positive step towards a more integrated approach to children's rights and needs for protection which we hope will lead to greater provision of specialist care to help trafficked children overcome the trauma of exploitation and prevent re-trafficking and other forms of abuse.”

Durr added that the charity “will be closely monitoring the pilot” to ensure all decisions and procedures are in line with the best interests of the child and to see its impact on outcomes for trafficked children.

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is the Government’s system for identifying victims of modern slavery and frontline workers – including local authority social workers and the police – have a duty as ‘first responders’ to refer potential victims of modern slavery into it. Referrals to the NRM have more than doubled between 2017 and 2020 – from 5,141 to 10,613.

Earlier this year, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that UK Government failed to protect two victims of child trafficking and breached two articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The court ruled that the UK Government failed to protect the two young people involved, as they were convicted of crimes as children despite signs that they had been trafficked and criminally exploited.

Read more: https://www.socialworktoday.co.uk/News/European-court-rules-UK-Government-failed-to-protect-child-trafficking-victims

Local authorities taking part in the new scheme include:
Cardiff Council
Glasgow City Council
Hull City Council
London Borough of Barking and Dagenham
London Borough of Islington (Joint with London Borough of Camden)
Newport City Council (Joint with Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent, Monmouth, and Caerphilly)
North Lincolnshire Council (Joint with North East Lincolnshire Council)
North Yorkshire County Council (Joint with City of York)
Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea (Joint with Westminster City Council)
Solihull Council

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