A new report by the Children’s Society and ECRE member British Refugee Council has unveiled gaps in the support given to trafficked children in the UK, leaving them vulnerable to further exploitation.

Over half of the children interviewed for the purpose of the report have undergone age disputes or wrongful age identification. As a result, some of these children were detained in adult prisons or immigration detention centres. The report finds that this is due to ‘a culture of doubt and suspicion’ among professionals providing services to the children.

In addition, as multiple social workers are assigned to cases, there is little continuity of care and children have had to repeat their often traumatic and abusive stories.

Some trafficked children have been put in inappropriate housing, leaving them without the necessary support or supervision and at risk of going missing and being re-trafficked. It is believed that 56% of the 330 known or suspected trafficked children identified had gone missing without trace. The report also highlights the difficulty for trafficked children to escape their traffickers and exploiters.

The current system is not [helping children] adequately; we need to get better at looking for the signs”, said Maurice Wren, Chief Executive of the British Refugee Council.

Children are unaware of their rights and available support which means that professionals involved in the process require adequate training and need to have a clear understanding of the indicators of trafficking to enable timely identification in order to ensure the necessary follow-up care.

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This article originally appeared in the ECRE Weekly Bulletin of 20 September 2013.

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