Big rise in number of child trafficking victims
Tuesday, February 18, 2014
The number of British children believed to be victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation has more than doubled in the space of a year.
Figures released by the National Crime Agency show that 56 British children were flagged as potential victims in 2013, up from the 2012 figure of 22.
The number of foreign-born children believed to have been victims of trafficking for sexual exploitation in the UK also increased by 11 per cent, from 79 in 2012 to 88 in 2013.
There was also a 24 per cent increase in the number of suspected cases of children being trafficked for labour, from 99 in 2012 to 123 in 2013, and a two per cent increase in suspected cases of children being trafficked for domestic servitude from 44 in 2012 to 45 in 2013.
The number of potential victims for which the type of exploitation suffered was unknown grew nine per cent from 127 in 2012 to 138 in 2013.
In total there were 450 suspected child trafficking victims in 2013 across all categories in 2013 – up 21 per cent on 2012.
The most common country of origin for child victims across all forms of trafficking was Vietnam, followed by the UK.
Albania was the third most common country of origin, followed by Nigeria, then Romania.
Liam Vernon, head of the NCA’s UK Human Trafficking Centre, said the increase in referrals to his organisation is likely the result of increased awareness of human trafficking and how to report it through the National Referral Mechanism.
He added that while work to protect victims ensures the safety of many, the fact that it is a crime that affects some of society’s most vulnerable people means some victims will remain undetected.
Home Office minister Karen Bradley confirmed that the figures are unlikely to show the full scale of modern slavery.
“That is why we are taking action on a number of fronts including raising public awareness,” she added.
“The National Crime Agency is leading an enhanced and co-ordinated response to targeting trafficking gangs, we are increasing protection for victims, and we are strengthening legislation through a Modern Slavery Bill.”
The government has also made attempts to improve both the detection of child trafficking and support available for victims.
Last month Home Secretary Theresa May announced two six-month trials to provide independent advocates to help trafficked children through providing them with support and promoting their interests.
And last year, the Home Office provided £70,000 of funding to provide training to a range of professionals – social workers, youth workers, the police, youth offending teams, GPs and midwives – on how to spot victims.