Human Trafficking - Human Rights Joint Committee Contents


Memorandum from London Councils and the London Safeguarding Children Board

London Safeguarding Children Board

  The London Board provides strategic advice and support to London's 32 Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs), and aims to respond to London agencies' needs on specific issues within a broad remit of:

    —  providing a strategic safeguarding children policy lead for London;

    —  promoting information sharing and collaboration in practice guidance and training for London agencies;

    —  supporting research and initiatives to improve services and practice in London; and

    —  helping London agencies meet the challenges of national safeguarding children policy.

  The London Board is chaired by Cheryl Coppell (Chief Executive, LB Havering), and its membership is made up of representatives from the London boroughs, the police, health, and probation; and London independent, voluntary and community agencies.

  The Board facilitates a number of professional networks and subgroups on key issues, and has a specific subgroup in place to address concerns around child trafficking within London. Over the past year, this subgroup has led the development and piloting of a best practice multi-agency safeguarding model for responding to the trafficking of children—see below for further details.

Child Trafficking in London

  An accurate picture of the child trafficking problem in London is difficult to obtain, particularly as few LSCBs collect data in a routine fashion. However, a number of research projects have found clear evidence that the issue is prevalent in London:

    —  In their 2004 report Cause for concern, ECPAT UK found that 26 of the 33 London boroughs had trafficking concerns regarding individual cases, or were suspicious about the circumstances in which a child had been brought into the UK or was currently living in. Only one borough stated that they had no concerns at all regarding trafficking.

    —  Through a mixture of outreach work in eight pilot boroughs and file auditing conducted in four boroughs, the London Safeguarding Children Board's Community Partnership Project (2007), part funded by the Home Office and DCSF, also found that child trafficking was more common than expected in London.

Professional Awareness and Understanding

  The ECPAT UK report also found that professional awareness and understanding of trafficking was lacking at times, and recommended that specific guidance be produced to address this knowledge gap.

    —  The London procedure for safeguarding trafficked and exploited children was subsequently published in 2006, and was later used to inform the 2007 DCSF guidance Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked.

    —  In March 2008, London Councils' lead members instigated a multi-agency seminar to further raise awareness of the growing problem of human trafficking, adding to a number of conferences and seminars held on the issue both locally and pan-London in recent years.

London Trafficked Children Pilots

  Seven London boroughs are participating in an initiative which brings together workstreams from London Councils, individual London LSCBs, the MPS and theHome Office. The project aims to develop and share good practice local safeguarding responses, and to assist the integration of national trafficked children mechanisms with existing safeguarding children procedure and practice.

  A London Trafficked Children Toolkit has been drafted to assist implementation of the model. The toolkit includes legislation, local structures, training plans and an updated version of the original London procedure for safeguarding trafficked and exploited children and is aimed at any professional who may come into contact with a trafficked child (LA children's social care, asylum teams, schools, health services, youth offending teams, UKBA etc).

  London boroughs participating in the initiative are: Camden, Croydon, Islington, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow and Southwark.[1] The pilots are running for one year, and began in March 2009, with a final report to be published in spring 2010.

Potential impact of 2012 Olympics

  An emerging issue for that the London Safeguarding Children Board is the potential increase in trafficking associated with London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Evidence from previous Games and other major sporting events suggests that.

Recommendations and Future Work

  The London Safeguarding Children Board's work on child trafficking and the emerging findings from the trafficked children pilots provide some important recommendations that the Joint Committee may wish to consider.

G

ender impact assessments

  Gender impact assessments should be undertaken with every licensing application for adult entertainment premises—in the same way that child impact assessments are undertaken by Local Safeguarding Children Boards. Evidence links an increase in attacks on women in areas where such clubs operate. The London Board suggests that trafficking could be an element of the assessment and that training for licensing officers would enable them to identify potential trafficking when visiting premises.

P

rovision of safe accommodation

  Safe accommodation is important in helping minimise the risk of child victims going missing from care. Child victims continue to be at risk from the serious organised crime networks that employ a range of techniques to try and ensure a child re-establishes contact with the trafficker if a child is in the care of a local authority. The pilot project has identified the importance of being able to provide a safe environment for the child and an opportunity to build trust as being critical in order to minimise the risk of children going missing from care.

  Further work in understanding why this is the case is required along with the development mutable option safe accommodation package.

L

ocal specialist support

  Providing professionals with access to specialist support is another key finding from the trafficking pilots. The model developed through the pilot sees local authorities nominate a local professional and assist him/her to develop specialist knowledge in relation to trafficked children. This local trafficked children lead will act as an adviser to other professionals and the lead professional in cases where the concerns in relation to a child are related to trafficking. A "trafficked children lead" could be a joint-funded post and could support staff in more than one LSCB area.

A

ge assessments

  Assessing the age of a victim of trafficking can be necessary because a child may have documents which are false, or belong to another child, in order to make them appear younger or older. The age assessment process can be lengthy and distressing for the child, and may result in them missing out on services and protection as agencies consider who should take responsibility. Subsequently, the new London guidance states that the child must be given the benefit of the doubt and be provided with full protection as a child victim of trafficking until his or her age can be verified.

N

ew assessment tool for identifying child victims of trafficking

  Current LSCB and competent authority referral and joint working arrangements will benefit from enhanced information sharing protocols and a child centred multi agency safeguarding training package. The toolkit developed as part of the pilot project contains a joint assessment tool and referral form to assist local professionals in both assessing the needs of the child, the continuing risks that they may face, and referring their case to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC), as a competent authority or the UKBA as a competent authority.

  The assessment was created within a children's services team and enhanced by the multi-agency ACPO victim identification group, and is also being used by the Home Office. Child trafficking sits within the child protection framework with early identification through assessment forming a critical first stage in safeguarding a child. Reasonable and conclusive grounds decisions within the context of the Council of Europe's Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings play an important role in safeguarding a child, as through a children's services assessment and outcomes process lead to a clear definition of a child's experience and also defining the needs of a child within the statutory service provision.

A

ssessment Framework/Common Assessment Framework

  Children are unlikely to disclose they have been trafficked, as most do not have an awareness of what trafficking is, may be too frightened of their traffickers or may believe they are coming to the UK for a better life. It is likely that the child will have been coached with a story to tell the authorities in the UK and warned not to disclose any detail beyond the story, as this would lead them to being deported. To assist professionals in all agencies to recognise the signs that a child may be trafficked as early as possible, the London toolkit provides a matrix of risk assessment indicators and links these to the CAF process and the national Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families.

P

otential impact of 2012 Olympics

  An emerging issue for that the London Safeguarding Children Board is the potential increase in child trafficking associated with London hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Evidence from previous Games and other major sporting events suggests that incidence of child trafficking rises in line with the increased movement of people into host cities. Children are largely trafficked for sexual exploitation and child labour (including forced begging).

Conclusion

  London has had a significant influence on national thinking around support for victims of child trafficking for a number of years, and seeks to continue to do so through the new toolkit and pilots. The initiative integrates immigration issues for children with their right to be safeguarded and their welfare promoted under the Children Acts 1989 and 2004. The toolkit should further raise awareness of child trafficking and give frontline professionals and their managers in all agencies, in London and across the UK, the tools they need to identify and respond to child victims.

January 2010








1   Other pilot authorities are: Kent, Manchester, Slough, Solihull, Glasgow, and Newport. Back


 
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Prepared 24 March 2010