The Government is to trial a new scheme which will see some child victims of trafficking given increased protection through a network of new personal advocates.
The scheme will be trialled for six months from April across a number of local authorities in England including the West Midlands, Manchester and Oxfordshire.
The Home Office has pledged that in the trial areas each child trafficking victim will be allocated an advocate with specialist training and expertise in trafficking who will provide independent support and guidance.
Specialist advocates will act as a single point of contact throughout the care and immigration process and will be responsible for promoting the child’s safety and wellbeing.
This is a significant step forward, but it falls short of providing the legal guardians for all separated children the Refugee Council has been calling for.
In our joint report with The Children’s Society, Still at Risk, we highlighted that far too many trafficked children are not getting the protection they need from the professionals and agencies that are supposed to be supporting them.
We recommended that the Government established a system of protection that includes a legal guardian appointed to a separated child as soon as they come to an authority’s attention.
Refugee Council Policy Officer Judith Dennis said: “It is vital that when a child is a suspected victim of trafficking they have someone to turn to who will ensure the child has a voice in decisions made about them, is kept safe and can recover from the trauma they have suffered.
“The Refugee Council is encouraged that the Government and local authorities have acknowledged that more needs to be done to protect these children and to keep them safe from further harm.”