The Home Office has issued this updated guidance in relation to trafficked children and vulnerable adults. It comes in the wake of recent media coverage and an alarming increase of this type of activity. In September 2018, it was reported that British children make up the biggest group of suspected victims, with 677 children from the UK referred to the authorities.
This type of criminality involves drugs, violence and sexual exploitation with children as young as 12 years old being targeted. In September, in Kirklees, 31 suspects were charged with historic offences of rape and trafficking. Their victims were aged between 12 and 18 when the offending occurred.
In Wales, 12 year-old children are known to have been trafficked to deliver cannabis along county lines. They were targeted via their social media accounts.
In many cases, and in spite of CPS guidance to carefully consider prosecution where the offending is integral to activities involving trafficking, there is still an overwhelming tendency to prosecute children. In spite of an available defence under s.45 of the Modern Slavery Act for children who are compelled to commit criminal offences, a UNICEF report has found that there are:
The new Victims Strategy address the issue with a commitment to ‘ensure that services provide victims with a quality service, based on their needs’. It vows to:
This report by ECPAT provides an erudite snapshot of the crisis surrounding child trafficking in 2018 and deals in part with the possible consequences of the UK leaving the EU.
Youth Justice Practitioners are referred to the ICCA’s guidance on Child Trafficking and County Lines for more information about identifying trafficked children and what to do in those circumstances.