2021 UK Annual Report shows rise in child trafficking victimsHuman Trafficking
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.
- Evidence is gathered from all parts of the UK for this annual report. Each part of the UK is covered by similar, but distinct anti-trafficking laws. CARE helped to influence and shape all of them.
- The Modern Slavery Act 2015 covers England and Wales.
- The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 applies in Scotland.
- The Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 applies in Northern Ireland.
- The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is the UK’s official process for identifying and confirming victims of modern slavery.
- In the report, modern slavery refers to human trafficking, labour exploitation, criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation, and domestic servitude.
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.