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Home Office written question – answered on 13th January 2020.

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Photo of Damian Hinds Damian Hinds Conservative, East Hampshire

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, what steps she has taken to provide independent legal guardianship for (a) separated, (b) unaccompanied and (c) trafficked children in the UK.

Photo of Victoria Atkins Victoria Atkins The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department, Minister for Women

This Government takes its responsibility for the welfare of unaccompanied, trafficked and asylum-seeking children very seriously and has stringent safeguards in place.

Local authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, including separated, unaccompanied and child victims of modern slavery. Unaccompanied children looked after by local authorities are entitled to the same services as any other looked-after child. Under these arrangements, unaccompanied children are assessed with regard to their individual needs and provided with access to education, accommodation and health services. They will be assigned a social worker and an independent reviewing officer, who are responsible for overseeing their care arrangements.

In addition, unaccompanied asylum-seeking children in England are able to access independent advice and assistance on the asylum process and their interactions with other central and local government agencies, through the Refugee Council’s Children’s Advice Project. Scotland and Northern Ireland also provide separate guardianship services.

Local children's services will work in close co-operation with the police and other statutory agencies to offer potentially trafficked children the support they require. In addition to statutory support, the Government has successfully expanded Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs) this year, so that ICTGs are operational in one third of all local authorities in England and Wales. ICTGs are an additional source of advice and support for all trafficked children, irrespective of nationality, and somebody who can advocate on their behalf.

These arrangements ensure unaccompanied children are provided with the support and advice that they need.

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