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Human Trafficking

Volume 524: debated on Monday 7 March 2011

Combating human trafficking, including the sexual exploitation of women and girls, is a key priority for the Government. We are committed to tackling organised crime groups who profit from this human misery, and to protecting victims. We are due to publish our new strategy on human trafficking in the spring.

Will my hon. Friend make sure that the review deals with trafficked children who are placed in local authority care, where one would hope they would be safe, only to go missing and often to be re-trafficked? That is an appalling state of affairs. I hope that she can give me some reassurance that the review will deal with this very distressing aspect of trafficking in the United Kingdom.

Yes, the Government acknowledge the difficult and important issue of children going missing from local authorities. At a national level, we are strengthening the arrangements in place to support vulnerable young people by placing the national strategic policing responsibility for missing children within the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre. In fact, its thematic review deals explicitly with the issue of trafficked children going missing from local authorities.

But does the Minister agree that if we were to adopt the European directive on human trafficking, which specifically provides for a guardian for trafficked children, that would be a real step in protecting the children to whom the hon. Member for South West Bedfordshire (Andrew Selous) referred?

At the moment, local authorities are, in particular, employing good practice around the use of interpreters and making sure that the places where children are placed are kept secret. As I may have mentioned before in this House, we are looking closely at the text of the European directive and considering its merits, and if we conclude that opting into it would benefit the UK, we will apply to do so.