The Modern Slavery Act was one of the most prominent actions of the previous government. It provided for special independent advocates to support children who have been trafficked, and to speak up for their best interests. Children are among the most vulnerable victims of trafficking and at particular risk of further harm and exploitation. Yet, more than a year since the act was passed, the government has still not implemented a full-scale roll-out of independent advocates.
A trial last year showed that this support makes a really positive difference for children. An independent evaluation concluded that the service was “important in ensuring clarity, coherence, and continuity for the child” and that “advocates added value to existing provision”. Reflecting international experience, it demonstrated independent advocates can improve children’s lives by engaging with local authorities and helping children understand complex processes and voice their concerns. Advocates also played an important role in urging authorities to place children in suitable accommodation and find those who went missing.
We echo the call of the cross-party group of MPs (50 and growing) who have tabled an early day motion this week urging the government to take swift action to build on the trials and provide all trafficked children with an independent advocate.
It is unacceptable that trafficked children are being left without this crucial support when the government has it in its power to commence the act’s provisions and transform their lives. These children should not have to wait any longer – they need advocates today.
Chief executive, CARE
Director, Children’s Rights Alliance for England
Service manager, Dost Centre for Young Refugees and Migrants
CEO, ECPAT UK
Solicitor and legal director, Hope for Justice
Chief executive, Welsh Refugee Council
Deputy executive director, Unicef UK
QotD: “Government must act on trafficked children”