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1.4.1 Practice Guidance - Working with Children or Young People who may be at Risk of Trafficking


ECPAT On the Safe Side


This chapter was updated in April 2013 to include guidance from End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Traffiking of Children for Sexual Puproses (ECPAT) - On the Safe Side - Principles for the safe accommodation of child victims of trafficking.

This chapter is currently under review.


  1. Introduction
  2. Background and Definition
  3. Objectives

1. Introduction

This guidance is for residential staff and support staff, who are working with children and young people who have recently arrived in the country who are believed to be at risk of trafficking.

2. Background and Definition

Human trafficking is defined as a process that is a combination of three basic components:

  • Movement (including within the UK);
  • Control, through harm / threat of harm or fraud;
  • For the purpose of exploitation.

Trafficked children are at increased risk of Significant Harm because they are largely invisible to the professionals and volunteers who would be in a position to assist them. The adults who traffic them take trouble to ensure that the children do not come to the attention of the authorities, or disappear from contact with statutory services soon after arrival in the UK or in a new area within the UK.

Children may be trafficked from a number of different countries for a variety of different reasons. There are a number of factors in the country of origin, which might make children vulnerable to being trafficked, and the factors listed below are by no means a comprehensive list. (For further information, see the London Safeguarding Trafficked Children Toolkit 2009.

  • Poverty;
  • Lack of education;
  • Discrimination;
  • Cultural attitudes;
  • Dysfunctional families etc.

Our role and responsibility as a corporate parent is to provide a safe environment, promoting and protecting a child's welfare through promoting a child's well-being.

Although contact is an integral part of our work as identified in the Children's Homes Regulations (Section 15 (6)), where contact may endanger a child, the Registered Manager may need to impose such restrictions prohibiting a child's contact.

3. Objectives

Where a child is known/ believed to have been trafficked, the following objectives will be implemented:

  • The child/young person will be given a leaflet about the risks of being trafficked in their own language. This will be explained with an interpreter;
  • The location of the child should not be divulged to any enquirers, or visits allowed until they have been interviewed by a social worker and their identity and relationship / connection with the child established, if necessary with the help of police and immigration services;
  • It is important to share information about potential victims of trafficking to key partner agencies in order that informed and effective case management and decision making is followed;
  • The liberty of young people cannot be restricted. However, the staff should know the whereabouts of the children/young person at all times, through the hourly unit checks and risk levels of particular children. All children/young people will be informed that standard procedures will be applied, if they go missing. This includes contacting the Police and other agencies such as UK Visas and Immigration (if relevant);
  • If a young person is advised not to go outside unsupervised, staff should support their cultural and social needs by ensuring there are activities within the unit and, if possible, supervised group outings;
  • Residential/support workers ought to be vigilant about anything unusual (e.g. waiting cars outside the premises and telephone enquiries);
  • A comprehensive risk assessment will be recorded setting out the safeguarding process to ensure the safety of the child. The young person should be involved in the assessment, which is subject to ongoing review. (This risk assessment will be discussed in detail at the first planning meeting, within 7 days, with the young person present. Further discussion will take place about the ongoing risks, via the statutory Looked After Review process. (The first Looked After review must take place within 28 days of the child becoming looked after);
  • If a young person goes missing, or is absent without authorisation, the Missing Children Procedures will be invoked (see London Safeguarding Children Procedures, Children Missing from Care, Home and Education Procedure). (The young person's absence will be reported to the local police using the standard Missing Children's Proforma);
  • The child should feel valued, respected and their views listened to;
  • Children should be able to have contact with family when considered safe. Any assessments of family/friends regarding contact should be done as quickly as possible;
  • The child should be advised that due to safeguarding issues, mobile phones may be kept for safe keeping by staff, until the Social Worker has sent written confirmation (e.g. by email) indicating that the risks have been sufficiently reduced;
  • In some Units where there is web access on site, it might be necessary to restrict/supervise access to the internet and social networking sites on a temporary basis;
  • Other residents will be encouraged not to loan their mobile phones to newly arrived young people. This will be discussed periodically in the house meetings;
  • Staff should be vigilant about checking the building, and outside environment and any concerns should be brought to the Duty Manager;
  • All observations must be recorded in the relevant communication tools; case files and log books;
  • Handover must include a discussion/update on current risks.

N.B In order to manage risk assessments effectively, they need to be amended periodically as risk levels intensify or decrease so as to allow for the implementation of safeguarding strategies.