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Hundreds of trafficked children fall off Home Office systems

Human Trafficking
16 May 2024
Trafficking 4

New data has revealed that in 2022, 1,871 children identified as potential victims of human trafficking or modern slavery dropped off the support system set up by the UK government system after they turned 18.

Potential victims of trafficking are assessed under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in order to gain access to support. 70% of the 2,634 children who turned 18 while waiting to be identified as a trafficking victim ‘disappeared’ from the NRM.

Half did not give consent for staying in the system, and had their cases suspended, while another 20% actively withdrew from the scheme. Around half of the children who fell out of the NRM when they turned 18 were British.

It appears that many children were not aware that they needed to give consent to remain listed on the NRM, and some were not even aware that they have been referred to it.

These figures have been described as “alarming” by anti-trafficking charities, who are encouraging for a widespread reform to protect young victims.

Eleonora Fais, coordinator of the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group, commented:

“This data is a wake-up call. We urgently need to improve our services so that children can receive the support they need.” Reforms being called for include the creation of child trafficking guardians in all councils across England and Wales, who would advocate on behalf of young victims.

The data also revealed that only 6% of children who turned 18 in the NRM access the Government’s modern slavery victim care contract, which is designed to help victims.

Rachel Medina, whose FOI led to the new data being uncovered, and who is chief executive of the Snowdrop Project, a Sheffield-based charity that offers long-term help to survivors of modern slavery, said:

“Worryingly, hundreds of children are falling through gaps in the systems that are meant to protect and support victims of modern slavery. The government must take responsibility to ensure that no child’s right to support is overlooked.”

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Human Trafficking

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