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Refugees: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Daisy Cooper Daisy Cooper Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Justice), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Digital, Culture, Media and Sport)

To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, how many trafficked, separated and unaccompanied migrant children were (a) recorded in the UK and (b) appointed an independent guardian in each calendar year from 2015 to 2019.

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

The Government views the slavery, including trafficking, of children as a very serious offence and recognises the particular vulnerabilities of child victims.

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is the framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery. Between 2015 and 2019, 12,054 children were referred to the NRM. The breakdown of referrals for potential child victims is as follows:


Number of NRM referrals (minors)











The NRM referral data is not broken down into the sub-categories outlined in the question. However the Home Office publishes the number of asylum claims lodged by unaccompanied children as part of its quarterly statistics release which can be found

Where children are found to be victims of modern slavery, their safety and welfare are addressed as the priority, irrespective of nationality or immigration status. Local authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area. Unaccompanied children looked after by local authorities are entitled to the same services as any other looked-after child, including access to education, healthcare, legal support and accommodation. They will be allocated a social worker who will assess their individual needs and draw up a care plan which sets out how the local authority intends to respond to the full range of these needs. Additionally, they must be allocated an independent reviewing officer, who will be responsible for chairing reviews of care plans and arranging for the child’s input; and have access to an independent advocate responsible for accurately representing the child’s wishes and feelings.

In addition to this statutory support, the Government has expanded Independent Child Trafficking Guardians (ICTGs) to one third of local authorities in England and Wales. ICTGs are an additional source of advice and support for all potentially trafficked children, irrespective of nationality, and somebody who can advocate on their behalf.

An evaluation of the ICTG service within the early adopter sites was published in July 2019 and can be found here. This evaluation was conducted on the service provided in the three initial sites of Greater Manchester, Hampshire and Wales between February 2017 and January 2019. Over this time period, 445 children were referred to the ICTG service.

Later this year the Home Office will publish its next evaluation of the ICTG service, which will provide further updates on outcomes of the service including the number of children it supports.

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