Hundreds of trafficked and unaccompanied asylum-seeking children went missing from care in the 12 months to September last year.
The charities Ecpat UK and Missing People report that 167 trafficked children and as many as 593 unaccompanied asylum seekers disappeared from the care system over the year in question. Alarmingly, 207 (or 40 per cent) of these vulnerable youngsters have never been found.
Meanwhile, too many local authorities have little or no information on the scale of the problem in their areas the charities claim.
“Local authorities with responsibility for the care of these children are frequently not able to report how many unaccompanied and trafficked children are in their care, and many failed to identify any child trafficking victims. Poor data collection and recording at a local level is deeply concerning and suggests that the UK’s wider child protection response to child victims of trafficking, in particular, is inadequate.”
Training for frontline workers on the specific issues faced by trafficked children and unaccompanied asylum seekers is urgently needed they claim, as well as a greater focus on safe and appropriate accommodation and tighter data collection procedures.
Chloe Setter of Ecpat said the problem had reached a shocking scale:
“For too long, children who are at risk of exploitation, or who have been trafficked, have gone missing from care – sometimes repeatedly, sometimes forever. It is a national disgrace that this problem has remained neglected and these children rendered invisible by poor data collection and national co-ordination.”
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