To ask Her Majesty’s Government what is their response to (1) the correspondence sent by Lord Alton of Liverpool on 20 February on behalf of ECPAT UK concerning missing, trafficked and unaccompanied children, and (2) the findings of the report by ECPAT UK, Heading back to harm, published in November 2016, that (a) a number of local authorities were unable to provide figures on the number of trafficked and unaccompanied children who had gone missing from care and had not been found, (b) some police forces did not hold figures on the number of children reported missing to them who were trafficked or unaccompanied, and (c) 167 trafficked and 593 unaccompanied children had gone missing from care in the year to September 2015.
There is nothing more important than keeping vulnerable children safe from harm. The Government’s comprehensive framework for safeguarding all children includes making sure local authorities are aware of the risk that they may go missing due to being trafficked.
Local authorities have a duty to record data on every episode of a child missing from care or away from placement without authorisation and to report on this, as well as on the unaccompanied asylum-seeking children for whom they are responsible, through their annual data returns on looked after children.
The National Crime Agency is also working with the relevant police leads to ensure the consistent recording of figures on the number of children reported missing to them who were trafficked or unaccompanied.
In developing the strategy for the safeguarding of unaccompanied asylum seeking and refugee children, we will be consulting with local authorities to identify further actions that might be taken to prevent these children going missing.