New Clause 43 - Independent Child Trafficking Guardians

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:15 pm on 4 November 2021.

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Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 3:15, 4 November 2021

If I may, I will write to the Committee. I have undertaken to write to the Committee with more information in relation to another matter we discussed earlier, and I am very happy to provide more information to the Committee in answer to that question.

Turning to new clause 44, I appreciate that appropriate methods of assessing the effectiveness of independent child trafficking guardians are required. The current independent child trafficking guardian service model is informed by the findings of the evaluation of early adopter sites, published in July 2019, and the evaluation of the regional practice co-ordinator role, published in October 2020. The provision of independent child trafficking guardians in section 48 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 provides the Secretary of State with a duty to make such arrangements considered reasonable to ensure that specialist independent child trafficking advocates are

“available to represent and support children who there are reasonable grounds to believe may be victims of human trafficking.”

Section 48(6) places a duty on the Secretary of State to make regulations about independent child trafficking advocates, which must include the circumstances and conditions under which a person may act as an independent child trafficking advocate, arrangements for the approval of the appointment of such advocates, the timing of appointment and the advocates’ functions. As mentioned earlier, the roll-out of the independent child trafficking guardian service is being informed by the findings of the evaluation of early adopter sites. As such, regulations will be brought forward in due course.

Independent child trafficking guardians are now operating in two thirds of all local authorities in England and Wales, as the hon. Lady said. It is important that the provision is able to support those vulnerable children appropriately, and it is precisely for this reason that a staggered approach has been adopted, with built-in evaluations along the way. We will continue to monitor closely the independent child trafficking guardian service to ensure practitioners are acting in the child’s best interests and that resource is being allocated appropriately. We will adjust guidance as needed to ensure that these vulnerable victims are protected and supported to recover from their exploitation. For the reasons I have outlined, I invite the hon. Lady not to press her new clauses.