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2.22 Trafficked children

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These procedures provide information about trafficking; the roles and functions of relevant agencies and the procedures practitioners should follow to ensure the safety and well-being of children who it is suspected have been trafficked.



Child trafficking into and within the UK has become an issue of considerable concern to all professionals with responsibility for safeguarding children. National Crime Agency statistics since April 2014 show a significant increasing trend in the numbers of trafficked children being identified and referred. Any form of trafficking children is an abuse. Children are coerced, deceived or forced into the control of others who seek to profit from their exploitation and suffering. Some cases involve UK-born children being trafficked within the UK.  

It is essential that professionals working across social care, education, health, immigration and law enforcement develop an awareness of this activity and an ability to identify trafficked children. Everyone involved in the care of unaccompanied and trafficked children should be trained to recognise and understand the particular issues likely to be faced by these children and safeguard appropriately.

This guidance provides information about trafficking, the roles and functions of relevant agencies and the procedures practitioners should follow to ensure the safety and well-being of children who it is suspected have been trafficked. It should also be read in conjunction with the guidance Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children: Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children (2014).

All cases of trafficked children should be referred to the National Referral Mechanism. Specific public authorities have a ‘duty to notify’ the Secretary of State of any person identified in England and Wales as a suspected victim of human trafficking or slavery.


Trafficking of children is defined as the "recruitment, transportation, transfer, harboring, and/or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation” (Article 3c of the United Nations Palermo Protocol 2000).

Therefore any child moved for exploitative reasons is considered to be a trafficking victim. This is partly because it is not considered possible for children to give informed consent.                   

A child is defined according to the Children Acts 1989 and 2004 as anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. 

A child victim of trafficking is regarded as a child in need, section 17 (a) of the Children Act 1989 states: “It shall be the general duty of every local authority to safeguard and promote the welfare of children within their area who are in need”.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Children defines unaccompanied children as: “Those who are separated from both parents and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, has the responsibility to do so.” (UNCHR 1994 Refugee Children: Guidelines of Protection and care).

The Hillingdon Judgement 2003 requires Local Authorities to provide accommodation and support for unaccompanied children under section 20 of The Children Act 1989.

Where there is uncertainty about age, a suspected victim of trafficking must be accorded special protection measures pending an assessment of their age. (S51 Modern Day Slavery Act 2015).

Age assessments should only be carried out where there is significant reason to doubt that the claimant is a child. Age assessments should not be a routine part of a local authority’s assessment of unaccompanied or trafficked children. Where age assessments are conducted, they must be Merton Compliant. Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children: Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children (2014).

Children’s Services should follow the guidelines laid out in Age Assessment Guidance (ADCS, 2015).

Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children: Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children (2014) provides that where the age of a person is uncertain and there are reasons to believe that they are a child, they are presumed to be a child in order to receive immediate access to assistance, support and protection in accordance with Article 10(3) of the European Convention on action Against Trafficking in Human Beings.

Any child moved for exploitative reasons is considered to be a trafficking victim. This is partly because it is not considered possible for children in this situation to give informed consent. Even when a child understands what has happened, they may still appear to submit willingly to what they believe to be the will of their parents or accompanying adults. It is important that these children are recognised as victims and protected accordingly.

Important information about trafficking

Trafficking in people is a complex global business which drives significant financial benefits for traffickers. Trafficking is often systematic and organised, and can be carried out by individual adults or agents, family members or relatives or by an organised group or gang. Traffickers can receive payment from or to the child’s parents, as well as from those wanting to exploit the child once in the UK. Traffickers can also be opportunistic preying on vulnerable children that find themselves in situations that make them susceptible to exploitation e.g. asylum seekers.

Trafficked children may be used for:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Domestic servitude
  • ‘Sweatshop’, restaurant and other catering or factory work
  • Credit card fraud
  • Begging or pick pocketing or other forms of petty criminal activity
  • Agricultural labour, including tending plants in illegal cannabis farms
  • Benefit fraud
  • Debt bondage
  • ‘Drug mules’, drug dealing or decoys for adult drug traffickers
  • Illegal inter-country adoptions
  • Organ harvesting
  • Pregnancy for fraud, benefits, exploitation, adoption or organs – ‘baby factories’.

Children may be trafficked into the UK from a number of different countries for a variety of different reasons. They can be trafficked a number of times and be subject to multiple forms of exploitation during their journey and once in the UK.  Factors which can make children vulnerable to trafficking are varied and include such things as poverty, lack of education, discrimination and disadvantage, political conflict and economic transition and inadequate local laws and regulations.

Children of both UK and other citizenships are being trafficked internally within the UK for similar reasons to those outlined above, such as sexual and criminal exploitation. This can include unaccompanied asylum seeking children, who may appear to have entered the UK through legal channels but for whom this may have been part of their trafficking journey and will be exploited once within the UK.

The increase in forced migration over recent years has also increased the vulnerability of children to trafficking.  Children in refugee camps across Europe can be preyed upon by traffickers and recruited for trafficking in the camp and beyond.  This is especially true if children are unaccompanied. 

In order to recruit children, a variety of coercive and complex  methods are used such as abduction or kidnapping, the promise of education, respectable employment or a better life, debt bondage, grooming, cultural and religious practice such as ‘Juju’ and threats to their family.

Many children travel to the UK on false documents. The creation of a false identity for a child can give a trafficker direct control over every aspect of the child's life. Even before they travel to the UK, children may be subject to various forms of abuse and exploitation to ensure that the trafficker's control over the child continues after the child is transferred to someone else's care. Trafficked children are often exploited throughout their journey to the UK.

Children can also be trafficked out of the UK for exploitation for a number of reasons, including FGM and forced marriage.

Evidence suggests that any point of entry into the UK may be used by traffickers via air, rail, road and sea and as checks on main entry points are increased, evidence suggests that traffickers are using more local entry points. A variety of transport routes and means are also used for trafficking children within the UK.

Trafficked children are victims of serious crime and this will impact on their health and welfare. In order to coerce and control, they are commonly subject to physical abuse including use of drugs and alcohol, emotional and psychological abuse, sexual abuse and neglect as a result of a lack of care about their welfare and the need for secrecy surrounding their circumstances.

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and your duty to notify

Specified public authorities now have a ‘duty to notify’ the Secretary of State of any individual encountered in England and Wales who they believe is a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking.

Specified public authorities include:

  • A Chief Officer of Police for a police area
  • The Chief Constable of the British Transport Police Force
  • The National Crime Agency
  • A County Council
  • A County Borough Council
  • A District Council
  • A London Borough Council
  • The Greater London Authority
  • The Common Council of the City of London
  • The Council of the Isles of Scilly
  • The Gangmasters Licensing Authority

In accordance with the requirements of the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings, the UK has a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for identifying and recording victims of trafficking and ensuring that they are provided with appropriate support in the UK.

The NRM is a multi-agency framework to identify and support victims of trafficking   and to ensure consistency of approach across all relevant agencies. The purpose of the NRM is to prevent and combat trafficking, to identify and protect the victims of trafficking and safeguard their rights; and to promote international cooperation against trafficking.

Trained specialists in the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) and UK Visas and Immigration (formerly UKBA) are responsible for determining whether a child’s circumstances come within the definition of trafficking. The MSHTU deals with cases referred by external agencies such as the Police, local authorities etc. where the person is a UK or EEA national, or where there is an immigration issue but the person is not yet known to UK Visas and Immigration (formerly UKBA). UK Visas and Immigration deals with situations where trafficking is raised as part of an asylum claim or in the context of another immigration process.

First responders can include:

  • Police forces
  • UK Border Force
  • Local authorities
  • Barnardo’s

A full list of First responders is available.

NRM should be comprehensively completed including all relevant information, and quality assured through line management processes,  as a negative conclusive grounds decision for a trafficked child could result in them being placed at increased risk of harm.

Referrals in relation to children should be made on the child NRM referral form. The National Crime Agency has a referral form and guidance notes. When making the NRM referral the child should be consulted and given an explanation of the purpose, the concerns, the potential benefits and the possible outcomes. However, you do not require consent from the child to refer them to NRM. An NRM referral should always be in the child’s best interests and careful thought should be given to who should submit the NRM referral.  If in any doubt, independent specialist advocacy services should be consulted.

The NRM referral should be made in addition to any immediate action required, to address the child’s needs, and in particular their need for protection from harm. At this stage there is a significant risk that the child will go missing, to be re-trafficked.

The referral will be allocated to the relevant competent authority e.g. UKVI for non EEA children and MSHTU for British and EEA nationals, who will acknowledge receipt of the case. This will be the point of contact for all information about the NRM referral and should be kept up to date with all information relevant to the issue of whether the child has been trafficked.

There are two stages to the NRM process – ‘the reasonable grounds decision’ and ‘the conclusive grounds decision’.

To make ‘the reasonable grounds decision’ the relevant competent authority will consider the details supplied in the referral and any other information available. The test is met if the competent authority can say ‘I suspect but cannot prove that this child is a victim of trafficking’. This decision should be made within 5 working days of the referral. The social worker will be notified of the decision - the child will not be notified directly.

If the reasonable grounds test is met, the child will have 45 days for recovery and reflection - during this period no action will be taken to detain or remove him/her. If the child needs longer, for example due to the level of trauma, an application can be made to extend this period by the First Responder who may wish to seek further advice regarding this application.

If the reasonable grounds test is not met there will be no further decision by the NRM. However this does not affect the duty of the local authority to safeguard and promote the child’s welfare, and where further relevant information comes to light a request can be made to the competent authority for the decision to be reviewed.

To make the ‘conclusive grounds decision’ the competent authority will consider   whether, on the balance of probabilities, there is sufficient information to conclude that the child has been trafficked.

It is the duty of the First Responder to update NRM with new information about the child.

A positive conclusive grounds decision (‘trafficked status’) provides a number of benefits for the child. This is not an exhaustive list but can include:

  • 45 day reflection and recovery period during which safe accommodation, healthcare and a range of other services are provided as required.
  • Recognition of the child as a victim of trafficking, not a willing participant.
  • An increased range of options for police to pursue suspected offenders.

A negative reasonable or conclusive grounds decision does not affect any agency’s statutory duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child.

Managing individual situations

Identification of trafficked children

All practitioners who come into contact with children and young people in their everyday work need to be able to recognise children who have been trafficked, and be competent to act to support and protect these children from harm.

The nationality or immigration status of the child does not affect any agency's statutory responsibilities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children. Nationality and immigration issues should be discussed with UK Visas and Immigration only when the child's need for protection from harm has been addressed and should not hold up action to protect the child.

Please note that these children may be Privately Fostered, in which case there are additional statutory responsibilities towards them - see Children Living Away from Home (including Children who are Privately Fostered) Procedure. Some trafficked children may be part of a family unit, and in some cases children who are being privately fostered are being exploited through this means, which needs careful consideration.

Possible indicators

Trafficking is a hidden crime, and therefore the indicators may not appear immediately obvious. Some children are unaware that they have been trafficked, while others may actively participate in hiding that they have been trafficked. Professional curiosity is vital in establishing whether a child may be a victim of trafficking.

The following indicators are not a definitive list and are intended as a guide to be included in a wider assessment of the child's circumstances.

At entry point, the child:

  • has entered the country illegally, has no passport or means of identification or has false documentation
  • is unable to confirm the name and address of the person meeting them on arrival
  • has had their journey or visa arranged by someone other than themselves or their family
  • is accompanied by an adult who insists on remaining with the child at all times
  • is withdrawn and refuses to talk or appears afraid to talk to a person in authority
  • has a prepared story similar to those that other children have given
  • is unable or is reluctant to give details of accommodation or other personal details.

Whilst resident in the UK, the child:

  • does not appear to have money but does have a mobile phone
  • receives unexplained/unidentified phone calls whilst in placement/temporary accommodation
  • has a history of missing links and unexplained moves
  • is seemingly required to earn a minimum amount of money every day, works in various locations, has limited amount of movement, is known to beg for money
  • is being cared for by adult/s who are not their parents and the caring relationship is distant and lacks warmth
  • is one among a number of unrelated children found at one address
  • has not been registered with or attended a GP practice
  • has not been enrolled in school.

For children internally trafficked within the UK, indicators include:

  • physical symptoms indicating physical or sexual assault
  • behaviour indicating sexual exploitation
  • phone calls or letters being received by the child from adults outside the usual range of contacts
  • the child persistently going missing or missing for long periods
  • the child possessing money or clothes/mobile phones/other items without plausible explanation
  • low self-image, low self-esteem, self-harming behaviour, truancy and disengagement with education.


Any agency or individual practitioner or volunteer who has a concern regarding the possible trafficking of a child should immediately make a referral to Children's Social Care under their own Referrals Procedure. Practitioners should not do anything which would heighten the risk of harm or abduction to the child.

Prompt decisions are needed when the concerns relate to a child who may be trafficked in order to act before the child goes missing or comes to further harm.  Where a child has been trafficked, any assessment should be carried out immediately as the opportunity to intervene is very narrow. Many trafficked children go missing from care, often within the first 48 hours. Provision may need to be made for the child to be in a safe place before any Assessment takes place and for the possibility that they may not be able to disclose full information about their circumstances immediately. This is vital for children who have been trafficked within UK as well as those who have been trafficked from abroad.

If they have suffered harm or there is a risk to the life of the child or an immediate likelihood of serious harm including re-trafficking, police or children’s social care should act quickly to secure the immediate safety of a child who may have been trafficked. In some cases it may be necessary to ensure that the child either remains in the safe place or is removed to a safe place. This could be on a voluntary basis or following the making of an Emergency Protection Order.

Where there is more than one child identified within the same household, any assessment should address all of the children.

A referral into the National Referral Mechanism is required for all suspected trafficked children, to enable the MSHTU/UK Visas and Immigration Competent Authority to assess and make an independent decision as to whether the child is a victim of trafficking or not, under the Council of Europe Convention on Action against the Trafficking in Human Beings.  Any new information should be forwarded as soon as possible to the MSHTU to ensure that the right decision is made. 

Decision-making following the receipt of a referral will normally follow discussions with the Police, the person making the referral and may involve other professionals and services.  Outcomes of this multi-agency decision could include Section 47 Enquiry or Single Assessment completion. Alongside the NRM submission to MSHTU, this document should also be forwarded to West Midlands Police Force Intelligence Bureau (FIB) on an WMP Partnership Form or for West Mercia West Mercia Protected Partner Intel form, for intelligence to be submitted and a crime reference number recorded on relevant documentation and systems.   

Strategy Discussion and Section 47 Enquiries

The Strategy Discussion should decide whether to conduct a joint interview with the child or children and, if necessary, with the family or carers. Under no circumstances should the child and their family members or carers be interviewed together.

The child should be offered an Independent Visitor and, if they decline, their reasons should be recorded. Any Independent Visitor appointed should have appropriate training and demonstrate an understanding of the needs faced by unaccompanied or trafficked children.

Professional interpreters, who have been approved and DBS checked, should be used where English is not the child's preferred language. Under no circumstances should the interpreter be the sponsor or another adult purporting to be the parent, guardian or relative.

Multi-disciplinary discussions

On completion of a Section 47 Enquiry the Children's Social Care decisions should be informed by multi-disciplinary discussions. These should involve the social worker, the social worker's supervising manager, the referring agency if appropriate, the Police and other relevant professionals. Further action should not be taken until this discussion has been held and multi-agency agreement obtained to the proposed plan, including the need for a Child Protection Conference and possible Child Protection Plan.

Where it is found that the child is not a member of the family with whom he or she is living and is not related to any other person in this country, consideration should be given to whether the child needs to be removed from the household.

Unaccompanied and trafficked children subject to immigration control need to have access to specialised legal advice. This will be in relation to immigration, asylum applications, decisions or court proceedings.  If the child is looked after by a local authority, the child’s social worker must ensure that support is provided to enable immigration status to be resolved. 

Any law enforcement action regarding fraud, trafficking, deception and illegal entry to this country is the remit of the police and the local authority should assist in any way possible.

When a child is found to be involved in criminal activities such as cannabis cultivation, guidance to law enforcement agencies now requires them to follow procedures published by The National Police Chiefs' Council (formerly known as the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO)) which puts protection of the child at the forefront.  A positive reasonable grounds decision from the NRM documents that the criminal activity is part of the exploitation and should halt any punitive processes.

With advice from their solicitors, children who have been trafficked into the UK may apply to UK Visas and Immigration (formerly UKBA), for asylum or humanitarian protection. This is because they often face a high level of risk of harm if they are forced to return to their country of origin. Note however that this is only when there is evidence of a risk of harm in returning. The possibility of a safe return to the child’s country of origin must be fully explored alongside their trafficking assessments and asylum documentation. The social worker will need to support their access to legal advice and representation.

Single Assessment

If the outcome of the referral or the strategy discussion is single assessment then specific action for a child who is possibly trafficked should include:

  • Seeing and speaking with the child and family members as appropriate - the adult purporting to be the child's parent, sponsor or carer should not be present at interviews with the child, or at meetings to discuss future actions.
  • A child should be interviewed in their own language with an independent interpreter – a family member or adult with the child should not act as an interpreter, as they might be the child’s trafficker.
  • Drawing together and analysing information from a range of sources, including relevant information from the country or countries in which the child has lived. All agencies involved should request this information from their counterparts overseas. Information about who to contact can be obtained via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the appropriate Embassy or Consulate in London.
  • Checking all documentation held by child, the family, the referrer and other agencies.
  • Copies of all relevant documentation should be taken and together with a photograph of the child be included in the social worker's file.

If at any point during the Single assessment there is information to suggest that the child is trafficked or there are suspicions that the child has been trafficked, they should be responded to through Child Protection procedures.  

If the outcome is that the child/children is/are not trafficked, consideration should be given as to how best to respond to any continuing risks identified during the Single Assessment, such as support co-ordinated under a Child In Need or Early Help plan.

What Trafficked Children Need

 Trafficked children need:

  • professionals to be informed and competent in matters relating to trafficking and exploitation and to be supported by the line management structure
  • someone to spend sufficient time with them to build up a level of trust
  • separate interviews - at no stage should adults purporting to be the child's parent, sponsor or carer be present at interviews or at meetings with the child to discuss future action
  • safe placements if children are victims of organised trafficking operations and for their whereabouts to be kept confidential
  • legal advice about their rights and immigration status
  • access to appropriate interpreters
  • discretion and caution to be used in tracing their families
  • risk assessments to be made of the danger if he or she is repatriated
  • where appropriate, accommodation under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 or in some cases consideration may also need to be given for an application to the Court for an Interim Care order.

Efforts should be made to contact the child’s family except where it is determined that to do so would be contrary to the best interest of the child. Details of the child to the family should not be revealed until a full risk assessment has been carried out. Red Cross Family Tracing service may be able to assist in tracing families. The Home Office also has a positive duty under Regulation 6 of the Asylum Seekers (Reception Conditions) Regulations 2005 to trace family members of UASC.

Safe accommodation should be provided taking into account the following ten principles of safe accommodation outlined by ECPAT’s On the Safe Side.  No one principle should be taken in isolation but seen collectively as the best practice for trafficked children.

  • The best interests of the child should be at the centre of all decisions regarding the provision of safe accommodation and related support.
  • Children should be asked about what makes them feel safe.
  • Children should be given sufficient information to help them make informed decisions about their accommodation and care.
  • Safety measures should be implemented to reduce a child’s risk of going missing, especially within 24 to 72 hours after first contact with the child.
  • Safe accommodation should be understood as multi-faceted, involving physical and psychological elements, with particular recognition of the impact of trauma on a child’s perceptions and behaviour.
  • A child’s accommodation and safety needs will change over time and should be regularly assessed.
  • A child should not feel punished or overly restricted by measures taken to help keep them safe in accommodation.
  • A child should be given access to a range of psychological, educational, health, social, legal, economic and language support that ‘brings safety to the child’ and helps them recover.
  • Everyone working with child victims of trafficking should be trained to recognise and respond appropriately to their needs.
  • Efforts to keep children safe should involve the wider community in ways that help create an environment that is difficult for traffickers to operate in.

Guidelines for the types of placements that keep trafficked children safe

  • Placement decisions should take particular account of protecting the child from any continued risk from traffickers, and from a heightened risk of going missing.
  • An out of area placement might in some cases be appropriate to put distance between the child and where the traffickers expect them to be.
  • Specialist accommodation should be considered, for example, in settings which specialise in dealing with victims of trafficking.
  • Careful consideration needs to be taken into account of placing the child with carers or other children from the same ethnic background.
  • Carers should have an awareness of trafficking and the impact on victims, and be given background information of the child and concerns before placement commences.
  • All residential home staff or foster carers caring for unaccompanied or trafficked children must be aware of any particular risks of them going missing, or of any continued risk to the child from their traffickers.
  • Carers must be fully aware of the child’s past experiences and the potential negative impact of protection measures which replicate methods previously used by their traffickers to control the child.
  • The placement chosen should have a Police marker put into place and carers should make contact with the Police if they have concerns about safety.
  • Placements require close adult supervision and oversight, particularly in the initial stages of placement.
  • The location of the child’s placement must be confidential not only to others but initially to the child themselves. Traffickers are likely to make strenuous efforts to contact the child and to reassert control over them.
  • Children need to be told they are safe and will be supported to keep themselves safe.
  • Professionals must immediately pass to the Police any information on the child (risk to safety, any other aspect of the law pertaining either to child protection or immigration status or other matters) which emerges during the placement.

Bed and breakfast (B&B) or independent accommodation is not suitable for any child under the age of 18 even on an emergency accommodation basis. Such accommodation could leave children particularly vulnerable to further risk from traffickers and does not cater for their protection or welfare needs.

Trafficked children lack the skills to keep themselves safe from their traffickers.  While it is important that children do not feel they are subject to punitive measures, steps to keep trafficked children safe in their care setting could be considered and include, amongst others:

  • To prevent traffickers making contact with children, consider access to mobile phones and internet usage, for example are other methods available for the child to stay in touch with friend or family if required?
  • Encourage children to memorise a phone number so that, if they do go missing from care but then find they are at risk, they can contact the local authority or carer;
  • Consider/provide supervision and oversight whenever a child leaves their care setting, particularly in the early stages of the placement;
  • Ensure the child’s room does not allow for easy exit, for example, is on an upper floor;
  • Careful consideration should be given to the risks faced by the child when out alone or with other children.

On a case by case basis, local authorities will need to consider whether or not the level of supervision and restrictions that have been put into place for the child are a deprivation of liberty and if so then an application to the Court will need to be made.

Returning trafficked children to their country of origin

In many cases, trafficked children can apply for asylum to the UK Visas and Immigration. They may be granted temporary leave to remain, refugee status or humanitarian protection. For some, returning to their country of origin presents a high risk of being re-trafficked, further exploitation and abuse. It is important that trafficked children are given access to legal advice from a trained OISC Level 2 and above advisor as soon as they are identified. 

Unaccompanied children can be granted UASC leave to remain which is leave to remain for 30 months or until they are 17½ years old.  At this stage they will have to reapply for leave to remain.

If a child does not qualify for asylum or humanitarian protection and adequate reception arrangements are in place in the country of origin, when the child turns 18, they may have to return.  It is important that this is handled sensitively and with assistance with reintegration which is available through voluntary return schemes.

Trafficked children who are looked after

Trafficked children identified as Unaccompanied Asylum Seeking Children (UASC) should be accommodated by the local authority under Section 20 of the Children Act 1989 (Hillingdon Judgement 2003).  The local authority may also give consideration to seeking an Interim Care Order – any decision to issue Care Proceedings will be dependent upon the circumstances of the case.

The assessment of their needs to inform their Care Plan should include a risk assessment of how the local authority intends to protect them from any trafficker being able to re-involve the child in exploitative activities. This plan should include contingency plans to be followed if the child goes missing.

Whilst the child is Looked After, residential and foster carers should be vigilant about, for example, waiting cars outside the premises, telephone enquiries etc. A detailed safety plan should be put in place by the local authority.

The local authority should continue to share with the Police any information which emerges during the placement of a child who may have been trafficked, concerning potential crimes against the child, risk to other children or relevant immigration matters.

Trafficked children who are missing

Significant numbers of children who are categorised as UASC have also been trafficked. Some of these children go missing before they are properly identified as victims of trafficking. Such cases should be urgently reported to the Police. Local authorities should consider seriously the risk that a trafficked child is likely to go missing, and take all appropriate measures to prevent and reduce this risk.

If the child goes missing the following should be completed immediately:

  • Comply with Safeguarding Children – Missing procedure.
  • Report to Police, identifying that the child has a positive conclusive grounds decision for trafficking or is suspected to be a victim of trafficking.
  • Complete and return NRM and FIB alongside any other additional requirements as identified within the Missing procedure.
  • Convene a Strategy Meeting within the timescales identified within the above safeguarding Missing procedures.

Further information

Support services and useful contacts

  • Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU)
  • Barnardos National Counter Trafficking Service Support Line (0800 043 4303)
  • Coram Children’s Legal Centre (0207 636 8505 for advice on the rights of asylum seeking and migrant children)
  • Red Cross Family Tracing Service
  • NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice and Information Line (0800 107 7057)
  • CEOP - Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (020 7238 2320)
  • Refugee Council Children’s Panel. Provides support to unaccompanied asylum-seeking children
  • ECPAT UK (020 7233 9887). UK children's rights organisation campaigning to protect children from commercial sexual exploitation
  • UNICEF (020 7405 5592)
  • Afruca (Africans Unite Against Child Abuse) (020 7704 2261) Promotes the welfare of African children in the UK and is concerned about cruelty against African children
  • PACE (Parents Against Child Sexual Exploitation) (0113 240 3040). A voluntary organisation working to end the sexual exploitation of children and young people
  • Foreign and Commonwealth Office (0207 008 1500)
  • The Missing People Helpline (116 000)
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