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Child Trafficking

Volume 404: debated on Monday 28 April 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health what estimate he has made of the effectiveness of the safe house operated by West Sussex county council in meeting the needs of children who have been trafficked to the UK; if he will issue good practice guidance to other local authorities on the care of children who have been trafficked; and if he will discuss with the Home Secretary the implications of the safe house project for proposals to establish a safe house for trafficked adults.[109308]

I am aware of the important work undertaken by the West Sussex Safe Houseā€”a resource for unaccompanied asylum seeking children for whom West Sussex county council has responsibility. I understand that a proposal has been put to West Sussex county council to replace the safe house with training and support packages to carers of young people assessed as being at risk of being trafficked. It is the intention of West Sussex county council to refocus their delivery of protection and support, making it more flexible while building on the progress they have undoubtedly made.The White Paper, "Secure Borders, Safe Haven: Integration with Diversity in Modern Britain" contained a commitment to develop a best practice toolkit to raise awareness of trafficking and to help those who deal with illegal immigrants and trafficking victims to distinguish victims in genuine need and to deal with them appropriately. The toolkit, which was launched on 10 March 2003, aims to provide useful information for those dealing with both child and adult victims of trafficking. It also identifies ways in which enforcement officers may be helped to identify traffickers and obtain better evidence.Under the provisions of the Victims of Trafficking pilot scheme, which the Home Office also launched on 10 March, a range of support services, including safe accommodation at a number of locations, will be available for the adult women victims of trafficking who meet the criteria for the scheme.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what arrangements are made by local authorities, in which (a) Heathrow airport, (b) Gatwick airport, (c) Manchester airport and (d) the Port of Dover are situated, to provide services for (i) unaccompanied children seeking asylum and (ii) children who are being trafficked.[109311]

When a child enters the country alone and claims asylum, Immigration Services refer him/her immediately to the relevant local authority's social services department. The social services department will undertake a needs assessment according to the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families and will provide services accordingly. These services should be tailored to the individual needs of the child, just as they should be for any child in need.The provision of assistance and support to child victims of trafficking should be provided by local statutory services in response to identified needs, whether directly or through specialist agencies. Child victims of trafficking are likely to be in need of welfare services and, in many cases, protection under the Children Act 1989. Social services have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of these children following an assessment of their circumstances.