Love 146: UK Parliament Conference on the Trafficking of Children to the UK

The Meeting:

The conference in Portcullis House was hosted on 2nd March 2011 by Conservative MP Peter Bone and Love 146‘s  CEO Steve Martin, European Operations Director, Gaz Kishere, Global Communications Director, Christian Elliot and many others calling on the government to mobilise MPs, ministers, Lords , police and charities to tackle the lack of care available for children who are rescued from traffickers in the UK.

Main Issues Discussed: –

There are no UK safehouses for rescued children:

The UK currently places all rescued child trafficking victims in local authority care that does not have the resources do deal with the type of trauma and ordeal they have suffered and the kind of crime they have escaped. Whereas adult women may be taken care of in specialised safehouses and prevented from being trafficked again there is no such care for children.

The local authority figures that are available show that a high number of children( under aged 16) go missing after being rescued. In a West Sussex local authority home 20 of the children were saved from trafficking but 8 of those children went missing.

Research that needs to be conducted:

Most of the local authorities that MP Peter Bone collected information from through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) did not have competent data on trafficked children taken into care. But at the meeting people differed in opinion whether much more in-depth research into the statistics is needed and whether all resources should go into funds for safehouses and preventative schemes. What is known is that the problem has been steadily getting worse over the last 10 years, last year, 2010 the number of trafficked children rescued in the UK was 1148.


The Next Step with the government’s support of Love 146 in the UK: –

Safehouses

When MP Peter Bone went to Love 146’s safehouse for trafficking victims in Manila, Philippines he became convinced that the UK should follow their model for the child victims of trafficking in the UK. They have specialist aftercare which makes sure that trafficking survivors never go back to a life of bondage again because their mental and emotional well-being has been looked after and reintegration of the children back into normal life and society is achieved. See this link for the MP’s heartwarming story about his visit to the safehouse, and his attendance to the wedding of a former trafficking victim:
http://conservativehome.blogs.com/platform/2010/12/peter-bone-mp-what-we-can-learn-from-the-philippines-about-how-to-tackle-human-trafficking.html

Preventative Actions:

The UK needs to work with other countries to prevent the trafficking of children and teenagers, one example of a  preventative scheme is Escape magazine, run with a dedicated Moldovan team. The magazine which was launched in 2009, has educational features warning of the dangers posed by traffickers incorporated in an entertaining lifestyle youth zine . Serghey Mihailov, the main editor and designer who liaises with Love 146 in the UK, says that despite being run on a tight budget the magazine is growing in strength and popularity amongst the teenagers who read it.

There also needs to be other practical institutional  ways to prevent trafficking into the UK by making the punishment sentence more severe than is one example. The UK government, MPs across parties, the police, European Union, Love 146 and organisations such as ECPAT and the United Nations need to all work together to clamp down on this inhumane, insufferable modern-day slavery.

Unicef /Robbie Williams film:



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