Email the Home Secretary to demand specialist support for trafficked children

"I was lost; my childhood was stolen. But no-one seemed to want to help me." – Sophie*, 15, who was sexually exploited for two years

Thousands of children each year like Sophie* are identified as victims of modern slavery and trafficking in the UK. They come from more than a hundred countries, including from within the UK itself. These children are known to be in situations of sexual exploitation, forced labour, criminal exploitation and domestic servitude – and they are some of the most vulnerable in our society, with many being alone in the UK with no family.

Those suspected of being trafficked qualify for support under child protection laws in the UK. However, the level of this support provided is often severely lacking and hugely inconsistent – as highlighted recently in the BBC's Three Girls documentary about sexual exploitation in Rochdale.

ECPAT UK believes that children who have suffered in situations of abuse require high levels of dedicated and specialist support in order to meet their needs, help them to rebuild their lives and become young adults.

Sign now to send an email to the Home Secretary to demand guaranteed specialist support for trafficked children.

If it is serious about its promise to "defeat modern slavery", the Government must overhaul the current system of identification/support for victims of trafficking – the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). In doing so, it should ensure the identification process is embedded within existing multi-agency child protection structures and provide sufficient resources to allow local authority areas to deliver specialist care and support.

*real name and image changed to protect her identity.

This will be sent to the Home Office from your email address soon after you sign the petition.

Dear Secretary of State,


RE: Campaign on the National Referral Mechanism for children

Sent via Care2 petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/212/843/823/


The Prime Minister, Theresa May, called trafficking "the great human rights issue of our time" and vowed to ensure Britain "leads the way in defeating modern slavery". Yet child victims in the UK often receive minimal support and are even placed at risk of re-trafficking by failures in their care.


Children suspected of being trafficked qualify for support under child protection laws in the UK. However, the level of this support provided is often severely lacking and hugely inconsistent – as highlighted recently in the BBC’s Three Girls documentary about child exploitation in Rochdale.


The current system of identification and support, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), is not well known amongst practitioners and provides little meaningful protection to children and young people.


Children who have suffered in situations of exploitation require high levels of dedicated and specialist support in order to meet their needs, help them to rebuild their lives and become young adults. This should include:



  •       Multi-agency decision-making about trafficking identification

  •       Immediate appointment of an independent legal guardian or advocate

  •       Access to specialist accommodation placements (such as specialist foster care)

  •       Quick and guaranteed access to specialist psychotherapy/counselling

  •       Publicly funded lawyers who are trained in trafficking issues and law relating to children

  •       A grant of leave that would ensure a durable solution (for those with immigration concerns)

  •       Access to compensation

  •       Guaranteed non-prosecution for crimes that were a direct result of any exploitation

  •       A multi-agency assessment of re-trafficking risk and subsequent safety plan

  •       Automatic special measures in all courts


The Government currently funds an annual £9m contract for the delivery of specialist support in England and Wales for adult victims. Yet there is currently no central funding available nationally for the specialist care of trafficked children who are instead supported by local authority children’s services.


Children in the UK of all nationalities who have been exploited should be guaranteed access to specialist support that helps them to recover from abuse. In order to do this, we urge you to overhaul the current system of identification/support for victims of modern slavery. We want the Government to ensure the identification process is embedded within existing multi-agency child protection structures and to provide sufficient resources to allow local authority areas to deliver specialist care and support for some of the most vulnerable children in our society.


[Your comment]

Yours sincerely,

[Your name]
[Your address]

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