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Child Prostitution

Volume 405: debated on Wednesday 21 May 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what estimate she has made of the number of children being smuggled into Britain for prostitution in the last year for which figures are available. [106927]

I have been asked to reply.The nature of trafficking means that it is a hidden crime and there are no reliable figures about children being trafficked into or out of the UK. There have been a few high profile instances of children being trafficked into or through the UK, but there is insufficient information to say if this is a growing problem. However, the very nature of the crime demands that it is treated very seriously, which is why the Government have introduced criminal sanctions covering child traffickers and has tasked the Reflex group with coordinating intelligence on the problem.The UK is committed to tackling the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation. Our strategy on trafficking is set out in the White Paper "Secure Border Safe Haven" and focuses on strengthening the law through new offences covering trafficking; providing appropriate support to victims of trafficking in the UK; tackling the criminals through intelligence and enforcement operations through the Reflex taskforce; EU co-operation and provention is source and transit countries in partnership with Foreign and Commonwealth (FCO) Department for International Development (DFID). Joint work is also underway between key agencies at principal entry points to identify children at risk, and the Home Office is working closely with the Department of Health on good practice in delivering the best service to children who have been trafficked.