Child trafficking victims and unaccompanied children are going missing from UK local authority care homes at an “alarming high” rate according to a new report
According to research published last month by ECPAT UK and Missing People, of the nearly 760 trafficked or unaccompanied children who disappeared from care homes across the UK last year, over 200 have not been found.
The report says the true scale of trafficked children who have gone missing is unclear as many local authorities lack data on how many are in their care
The charities are raising concerns about the effectiveness of the country’s child protection system and are calling on the UK government and local authorities to reform the child protection system.
Press TV reports:
The study found that over 160 children went missing at least once in the 12-month period leading to September 2015. That is more than a quarter of all trafficked children in the UK care system.
Additionally, 593 of the 4,744 unaccompanied child asylum seekers placed under the protection of local authorities had disappeared at least once in the same period.
This means that from September 2014 to September 2015, care services were responsible for nearly 30 percent of all the UK’s child trafficking victims and 13 percent of missing unaccompanied children.
The two charities said the data they had collected from 200 local authorities underscored the need to reform the child protection system in Britain.
Chloe Setter, from ECPAT UK, which mainly focuses on child trafficking, said the fact that the issue of vulnerable children going missing had “remained neglected” amounted to a “national disgrace.”
“We must not accept this as a reality any longer. Every child that goes missing is a failure in our duty to protect them from harm,” she added.
Susannah Drury, from Missing People, called on the law enforcement to treat the trafficked or unaccompanied children who go missing as “high risk” and prioritize their safety over “any questions about their immigration status or criminal activity.”