title: 'Child trafficking slavery' published: true publish_date: '31-08-2016 14:56' taxonomy: category:

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    The number of children being trafficked into the UK continues to rise. Official government figures say almost 1,000 children have been exploited and moved around the UK in the last four years. Others say this is a massive underestimation. VoR's Juliet Spare reports. A charity which campaigns against child exploitation and trafficking called ECPAT UK, says the government numbers are a huge underestimation because the quality of the data collected by the government isn’t good enough. ECPAT says the government is missing out on a major opportunity to crack down on child trafficking by not yet signing up to a European Union Directive which would help pinpoint the number of victims in the UK. The Directive is calling for the appointment of an anti-trafficking commissioner and the allocation of a guardian for all children who become victims of trafficking. Deputy Director of ECPAT Colin Walker says a system of guardianship is essential for children from the moment they are noticed by the authorities. "When you see a child recovering after their severe trauma and confidently address people at conferences about what needs to be done to combat child trafficking it makes your heart sore," he said. "This is why we want all children to get the necessary support; we want a system of guardianship for every victim. We know that is what’s best and helps them recover, so we want to see that available for everyone". Calls for gov't action But it’s not only ECPAT criticising the government’s response to human trafficking. A recent report from the Centre for Social Justice said the UKs effort to tackle modern day slavery was at crisis point and the response from the government had been inadequate. In 2012, the Centre for Social Justice said 100 children were sexually exploited and almost 100 children were sold for labour. The Labour MP Michael Connarty who was responsible for bringing before Parliament the Transparency in UK Company Supply Chains and Eradication of Slavery Bill, says the government is turning a blind eye to the issue and ignoring the victims of child trafficking. "They haven’t brought in an independent rapporteur or a system of guardianship which means they’re not answering to the Directive they’ve supposed to have signed up to," he said. "They’ve basically introduced a charter which has stolen some of my ideas from myBill which is to make companies audit their supply chains - but there is no way of enforcing it because it’s basically a bit of paper". Not a centre-stage issue Mr Connarty says the government should stop viewing slavery and trafficking as a migration issue and instead focus on it as a matter of ethics and trade. "The government seem to be quite willing to turn a blind eye to the truth, not enough MPs are focused on the problem," he said. "Sadly what they’ve done is not deal with human trafficking as an ethics and trade issue but deal with it as migration problem and give the Immigration Minister the responsibility which means they look at victims as culprits here illegally not the fact they are victims transported and bussed around in the same way slaves were two hundred years ago". The Centre for Social Justice also urged the government to urgently appoint an anti-slavery commissioner and view trafficking as slavery. Calls for anti-slavery action Deputy Director for ECPAT Colin Walker says abuses in slavery and trafficking are the same and feels frustrated by the government’s refusal to introduce measures to help children. "It is our biggest single request that all child victims of trafficking are provided with a guardian as soon as they are identified in this country," he said. "Someone who can help them come to terms with what’s happened to them. Someone they can disclose the abuse they have suffered and someone to offer the emotional support they need to rebuild their lives. "The government says equivalent mechanisms exist but they are not the same and they do not supply the same level of support for the child that we think, they need". A government spokesperson said:"Human trafficking is abhorrent and we are committed to combating this crime in all its forms. That is why we opted into the EU Directive in July 2011 and why we have taken additional steps to fully comply with the Directive and strengthen our approach. "From later this year the National Crime Agency will build on existing work to combat trafficking by using its enhanced crime fighting and intelligence capabilities to target criminal gangs.”

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