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6.6 Risk of Trafficking


  1. Introduction
  2. Indicating Factors
  3. Risk of being Trafficked for a child who is Looked After

1. Introduction

Trafficking is defined as the 'Recruitment, Transportation, Transfer, Harbouring or Receipt of Children by Means of Threat, Force or Coercion for the purpose of Sexual or Commercial Exploitation or Domestic Servitude' (AFRUN/NSPCC).

It is a rapidly growing global problem and is a violation of human rights affecting all communities. There is evidence that large numbers of children, from different parts of the world are subject to such exploitation within the UK or that the UK is used as a step in the process, with children arriving here and at a later point being trafficked to another part of the world.

2. Indicating Factors

A number of factors identified at the Initial or Age Assessment may indicate that a child has been trafficked. In all such cases the first priority is to ensure the safety of the child.

  • The child may present as an unaccompanied minor;
  • The child may go missing;
  • Multi use of the same address may indicate this a sorting house;
  • Contracts, consent and financial inducement with parents may become apparent;
  • The child may hint at threats to family in their country of origin;
  • Talk of financial bonds and the withholding of documents;
  • Befriending of a vulnerable child;
  • False hopes of improvements in their lives.

Some children are also trafficked for the purpose of domestic labour. These may be less obvious but may be picked up during private fostering assessment or because someone notices that a child is not at school. Children who enter the country apparently as part of re-unification arrangements can be particularly vulnerable to domestic exploitation.

If any suspicions are raised that a child is being trafficked, or at risk of this, immediate action must be taken to safeguard the child. This includes urgent liaison with the Police. Planning of the investigations should be within a strategy meeting, for the immediate protection of the child and to address possible crimes having been committed.

Any child from abroad who goes missing should be reported to the Police and UK Visas and Immigration immediately. Inter-agency procedures in respect of missing children are to be applied: Trafficking and Unaccompanied Minors Protocol.

3. Risk of being Trafficked for a child who is Looked After

Where a child from abroad becomes the responsibility of Children's Social Care the degree of risk to the child of possible abduction should be assessed and should inform placement choice. All children suspected of being trafficked will be placed in foster care. Foster Carers should have an understanding of the child's situation and the risk of exploitation and trafficking made clear to them to ensure safety of the child.

Anyone approaching Children's Social Care and claiming to be a potential carer, friend or member of the family of the child should be thoroughly investigated. All appropriate agencies should be contacted for any relevant information they may have. The possibility that the child is, or may be vulnerable to exploitation or trafficking must be considered and checked out. Agreement from appropriate managers and panels should be sought before allowing the child to transfer to the person's care.