All trafficked and unaccompanied children should be supported by an independent guardian to help them access their rights. With the Modern Slavery Act under review it's now or never to make this happen.
There are thousands of children identified as trafficking victims in the UK, and the numbers are rising each year. Unaccompanied children in migration continue to be among those most at risk of being trafficked. Around a quarter of all trafficked children and 15% of unaccompanied children go missing from care each year. All these children need an independent, trusted individual to support them, yet in England and Wales there is still no comprehensive guardianship service available to them.Will you take one minute to email your MP by signing this petition? If you're in the UK, signing will send the email under 'read petition letter' below to your MP, urging them to take action.
Thank you for standing with our most vulnerable children.
These children may have had to flee their country due to conflict, and then been exploited on their journey to the UK.
Or they may be British children in the care system, let down by the adults around them.
They may have been forced to grow or sell drugs, or forced into sexual exploitation.
They may have no relatives or friends in the UK.
They may face prosecution for offences they were forced to commit by their traffickers.
They may have physical injuries and mental health conditions as a result of their abuse.
Imagine that these children have to navigate the immigration, criminal justice, social care, health and education systems on their own, often without a parent or trusted person to support them.
International standards say that all unaccompanied and trafficked children should be entitled to an independent, legal guardian to act in their best interests and support their needs. It has been shown that having a guardian can help unaccompanied children feel comfortable to share experiences of trafficking, which leads to them receiving the support they need to recover. Having a guardian also helps prevent children from being re-trafficked.
Yet in the UK, a much more limited version of guardianship exists in law, and it has not been made available to all children nationally. It is restricted only to those already identified as victims, not all unaccompanied children, despite this being an international obligation. Moreover, the Government is now threatening to weaken the support it provides through the service to children trafficked internally in the UK
Subject line: Independent guardianship for unaccompanied and trafficked children: urgent action needed
Dear <MP name>,
I urge you to engage with the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act to ensure that the government provides independent, legal guardianship for all unaccompanied and trafficked children in the UK.
There are thousands of children identified as trafficking victims in the UK, and the numbers are rising each year. Unaccompanied children in migration continue to be among those most at risk of being trafficked. Around a quarter of all trafficked children and 15% of unaccompanied children go missing from care each year [https://www.ecpat.org.uk/still-in-harms-way]. All of these children need an independent, trusted individual to support them, yet in England and Wales there is still no comprehensive guardianship service available to them. International standards call for a guardian to be in place for all unaccompanied and separated children, however no such scheme is in place in England and Wales. This year, 120,535 supporters called for specialist support for all trafficked children, which included the call for provision of a comprehensive guardianship service [https://www.ecpat.org.uk/demand-specialist-support-for-trafficked-children].
It is well established that unaccompanied children are highly vulnerable to trafficking. The role of a guardian can assist these children, who are in the UK without family support, to feel able to disclose experiences of being trafficked, and to prevent them from experiencing further harm and exploitation. Evidence has shown that having an independent, trusted individual can help children exploited in the UK escape situations of exploitation, prevent them from going missing and effectively navigate the legal system - including in cases of child sexual exploitation and 'county lines' criminal exploitation.
The Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTA) scheme currently operates in three 'early adopter sites' in the UK, with three more sites due to launch next year. It is available only to children already identified as potential victims of trafficking. The proposed changes to the scheme, including an end to individual advocacy services for 'internally trafficked' children, risks creating a system in which children aren't treated equally. While it is understandable that different children may require different types of support, it should be the type not the level of support that is different. Children should not be treated differently in terms of the level of support they receive – support should be consistent regardless of the form of exploitation they experienced, the location of their exploitation, or their nationality or immigration status.
If this government is serious about its commitments to ending modern slavery, this vital element of prevention and support must be adopted without delay. I urge you to:
Tweet the Home Secretary using the following example: All trafficked and unaccompanied children deserve an independent, legal guardian to help them access their rights. With the #ModernSlaveryAct under review, it's now or never to make this happen. @sajidjavid #allchildren http://bit.ly/2Sg3y0K
Engage with the Independent Review of the Modern Slavery by submitting evidence to Vernon Coaker MP, who is coordinating evidence collection from Parliamentarians. More information on the review is here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/independent-review-of-the-modern-slavery-act
Write directly to the Home Secretary raising this important issue.
Please keep me updated on your actions taken and any progress made.
NB I am sending you this email via the ECPAT campaign on Care2 at http://www.thepetitionsite.com/590660777.