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2021 UK Annual Report shows rise in child trafficking victims

Human Trafficking
26 November 2021
Woman with her head bowed

The UK’s Annual Report on Modern Slavery has been published. It covers key developments across the UK in modern slavery from October 2020 to end of September 2021.

Key Terms

What does the Report show?

In 2020, a total of 10,613 potential victims were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) which is the official process for identifying and confirming modern slavery victims.

Adult referral accounted for 48%, down on 2019 but referrals for child potential victims went up from 4,547 in 2019, to 4,946 in 2020.

Labour exploitation was the most common form of exploitation among adult potential victims, while for children it was criminal exploitation.

To help child victims recover, the Report talked about Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs). In May 2021, this scheme was extended to 11 further local authorities. CARE strongly supports extending the roll-out to all local authorities.

In 2020, 267 defendants were prosecuted for being involved in modern slavery, with 197 convictions and 70 non-convictions.

What to make of it?

The Report doesn’t highlight anything we didn’t know already. CARE still wants to see improvements on a number of fronts. Namely:

  • Increased prosecutions.
  • Independent child trafficking guardians rolled out across all local authorities.
  • Longer-term support for confirmed victims.

Disturbingly, the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill could actually make matters worse for confirmed victims unless it’s amended.

During Committee Stage, Holly Lynch MP made this point and agreed with our assessment that the legislation could harm, not help victims.

Our briefing on the NBB and Modern Slavery sets out our specific concerns.

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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is one of the greatest violations of human dignity. We are fighting for effective laws that will help victims get better support.

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