Human Trafficking: Children

Home Office written question – answered on 22nd February 2021.

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Photo of Baroness Doocey Baroness Doocey Liberal Democrat

To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the impact of COVID-19 on (1) the level of child trafficking in the UK, and (2) their efforts to combat such trafficking.

Photo of Baroness Williams of Trafford Baroness Williams of Trafford The Minister of State, Home Department

This Government is committed to protecting those at risk from abuse and exploitation, including during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Home Office publishes statistics on National Referral Mechanism (NRM) referrals on a quarterly basis, and reports up to Q3 2020 can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/national-referral-mechanism-statistics

NRM referrals for individuals who were potentially exploited as children for quarter 1 (January to March), quarter 2 (April to June) and quarter 3 of 2020 (July to September) were 1,237, 1,274 and 1,159 respectively. Quarter 4 statistics (October to December 2020) are being prepared and the release date will be confirmed here. national referral - Research and statistics - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

During the Covid-19 pandemic, NRM referral rates may have been affected by a number of factors. This includes reduced levels of travel from other countries to the UK, and lockdown measures in the UK meaning victims have been less likely to interact with First Responders.

The Home Office recognises victims are coming into contact with different services during the pandemic and we have worked to raise awareness of the indicators of modern slavery with the providers of these services to ensure victims continue to be identified and supported.

The Home Office continues to work with a range of partners to identify and deliver effective prevention activity. This includes successful awareness raising initiatives such as the Government’s ‘Hidden in Plain Sight’ campaign and the #SlaveryonYourDoorstep campaign led by CrimeStoppers. We also have a dedicated GOV.UK resources page that provides up-to-date information on how to spot the signs of modern slavery and report concerns.

Throughout the pandemic, we have worked closely with law enforcement partners to monitor risks and ensure that social distancing measures do not impede their ability to carry out work to prevent and tackle crime or prevent victims coming forward.

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