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Children: Human Trafficking

Volume 507: debated on Wednesday 17 March 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Children, Schools and Families what steps his Department is taking to introduce a system of guardianship for child victims of trafficking. (320760)

The issue of guardianship for unaccompanied minors, some of whom may be victims of trafficking, was given careful consideration in the last session of Parliament during the debates on the Children and Young Persons Act 2008.

Unaccompanied, potentially trafficked children will usually enter local authority care and their needs and interests are best protected by the professionals involved in their care working well together and fulfilling their statutory responsibilities to the high standards required. These professionals will include the child’s social worker and carers, as well as staff responsible for supporting them to make their claim for asylum in the UK. Each child must also be allocated an Independent Reviewing Officer (IRO) who is responsible for chairing regular reviews of their care plans. IROs must make sure that the child understands the plan for their care and is able to take an active part in making this plan. The IRO will need to make a relationship with each child to help them understand the full range of their rights and entitlements, including their right to access independent advocacy support.

The addition of a “guardian” to this framework risks adding further complexity and possible duplication to existing arrangements which involve a significant number of professional and concerned individuals. This could be confusing for children themselves and we need to ensure plans for their care and for processing their claims for asylum are effectively co-ordinated.