Professionals working with children and young people will receive specialist training to spot and help victims of child trafficking as part of a Home Office scheme.
A total of 234 potential vicitms of child trafficking were identified in 2011. Image: Phil Adams/posed by models
The initiative, designed for youth workers, social workers, GPs and midwives, will be rolled out across London, Birmingham, Cardiff, Liverpool, Leeds and Brighton.
The training is part of the government’s strategy to support victims who are “lured to the UK by gangs and then exploited for sex, labour and domestic slavery”, including the rising number of children being forced into crime, such as street begging and cannabis cultivation.
The NSPCC is among five organisations that have received £70,000 of Home Office funding to provide training as part of continuing professional development courses for the children and young people's workforce.
The aim is to improve awareness and understanding of trafficking, aid the identification of potential child and adult victims and give information on practical support available.
Mark Harper, immigration minister, said: “Human trafficking is an appalling crime and one which the government is committed to tackling.
“We have already made significant progress in the fight against trafficking with more work than ever before to prosecute criminals and stop organised gangs in their tracks.
“But we are not complacent and training for frontline professionals is vital in order to identify and protect those at risk of harm.”
In addition to the NSPCC, training will be provided by Stop the Traffik, Eaves, Thames Reach and the Counter Trafficking Bureau.
They have been asked to target their work at professionals who are most likely to encounter victims in their day-to-day work.
Under the initiative, students completing social work degrees at universities will be given training as part of their course.
The scale of child trafficking is unclear but government statistics show that in 2011, 946 potential victims of human trafficking were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), of which 712 were adults and 234 children.
John Cameron, head of the NSPCC's helpline, said: “Trafficking is one the great scourges of child abuse so we must do everything possible to stamp it out.
“This funding will help us train professionals who form the crucial first line of defence against this dreadful crime that blights the lives of many children.
“It's an extremely positive and welcome move by the government which will help strengthen child protection and bolster the battle against trafficking."