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Human Trafficking

Volume 557: debated on Monday 21 January 2013

4. What steps he is taking to raise awareness in schools of the dangers of human trafficking in the UK. (137903)

Human trafficking is a heinous crime, and I salute my hon. Friend’s work in raising awareness of this issue. Schools can ensure that pupils receive appropriate information on this important topic through personal, social, health and economic education.

I thank the Minister for that reply. I commend the work undertaken among girls at Sandbach high school in my constituency, raising awareness that trafficking is happening right here in many UK towns and cities. What are the Government doing to make sure that school pupils recognise grooming, are aware of the dangers to which it can lead and know how to avoid becoming victims?

I, too, commend the work done by pupils and teachers at Sandbach high school, and I thank my hon. Friend for bringing it to my attention. I would be interested to hear more from her about how that school carries out best practice. She rightly highlights that PSHE plays a role in ensuring how pupils learn about, recognise and spot the signs of abuse and grooming, helping them to stay safe and to make informed choices.

Are not too many teachers anxious about raising such subjects in the classroom? We know of the real risks that young girls face—most brutally revealed at the Old Bailey last week by the cases of young children in Oxford? What can the Minister do to help teachers in the classroom to have the tools they need to protect these girls?

The hon. Lady is absolutely right that we need teachers to be aware of, and well trained in, these issues. I would like to learn from the case raised by my hon. Friend the Member for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) and to share it as best practice, so that we can ensure that those important issues are taught in our schools.

One of the signs, of course, is children who go missing from school on a regular basis. In 2011, the Select Committee recommended that the Secretary of State should write to schools annually, reminding them of their responsibilities. Is that now happening?

I am not sure, but I will certainly undertake to get back to the right hon. Gentleman. He raises a very important point, and schools should be vigilant about it.