Agenda item

Child trafficking and Modern Slavery

The following outside experts be presenting :


  Tamara Barnett: Human Trafficking Foundation (see enclosed information)


  Catherine Baker Senior Research, Policy and Campaigns Officer, ECPAT UK


The police will be inputting and relevant council officers.


The following experts, members and officers contributed to this item


·  Tamara Barnett: Human Trafficking Foundation

·  Catherine Baker Senior Research, Policy and Campaigns Officer, ECPAT UK

·  Jasmine Ali, Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Adults.

·  Norman Coombe, Head of Corporate Team, LEGAL Services;

·  David Littleton, Head of Regulatory Services;

·  Sarah Newman, Business Unit Manager ;

·  Alasdair Smith, Director, Children & Families;

·  Patricia Comley, Strategic Lead for Adult Safeguarding, Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards & Principal Social Worker for Adults.


Tamara Barnett: Human Trafficking Foundation, gave an overview of Modern Slavery. Communities most at risk of modern slavery  include UK drug and gangs using Modern Slavery to exploit young people on county lines ( where often vulnerable urban young people are controlled and exploited by drug gangs to sell drugs in towns outside of the city), Vietnamese (cannabis farming), Nigerian

(domestic servitude) and Albanian.


Most recently the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) identified 5,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK, 2,000 of these were children. In the UK 20% per cent of children go missing in LA care. The National Crime Agency Data Southwark statistics show in 2016 one adult was identified under the Modern Slavery Act, which is low. A Hestia report highlighted that there were 55 victims in a safe house from Southwark. The Human Trafficking Foundation estimated that 200 would be realist figure for Southwark, and a focus on this work ought to see the number of referrals go up.


Tamara works with LAs to set up task and finish groups on slavery, looks at best practice, gaps in reporting, and creates LA slavery leads. She is already doing some work with Southwark and spoke at a recent event organised by the adult safeguarding board.


LAs have a statutory obligation to identify victims of trafficking and Modern Slavery. There is often a lack of support before a victim goes into a safe house and when they leave (usually after 90 days). LAs need to work out what gaps there are and  how they are recording victims of modern slavery, what multi-agency tools they have in place, and what services they can we use that already exist. There are challenging resource issues here as although councils have been given responsibilities this has not been coupled with additional resources.


 It is crucial that all frontline staff, including councillors, are trained to identify possible victims of modern slavery.  She recommended setting up a task and finish group, which ought to include housing, and also consider creating an Adult MASH.


 Catherine Baker Senior Research, Policy and Campaigns Officer, ECPAT UK reported that she had started to do some work with Southwark on child trafficking training.


Nationally nearly half of all victims of Modern Slavery and Child Trafficking are children. Labour exploitation is on the rise. 24% of child trafficked children in care go missing, and 20% are not found. This 20% is not always followed adequately.


She reported that Southwark could not provide the data on child trafficking because of the flags used.


She advised that Child Trafficking cuts across the boundaries of Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) and criminal exploitation, with many children are experiencing multiple forms of exploitation and harm.


She advised training for front line workers is crucial. It is also important to consistently treat unaccompanied children as potentially trafficked children. It is best practice to have CSE lead and a Child Trafficking lead and it works well if these are the same people. Other good practice is to have a Modern Slavery Special Point of Contact ( SPOC) and this could be a member.


The chair invited officers to contribute on the council work on this area.


Norman Coombe advised that the council adopted the Cooperative Party statement on Modern Slavery and this includes a commitment to  report on this once year; due July.


Alasdair Smith, Director, Children & Families reported that referrals have increased to 15 a year and the council is working with around 200 children  at risk from Modern Slavery through county lines’ - directly or indirectly . The safeguarding board has now moved from CSE to the broader theme of Criminal Exploitation.  He said the council sees less classically trafficked children and the department do not see children go missing from care; generally if children come into Southwark’s care they stay. They do see isolated cases of child trafficking; gardeners (cannabis) and teenagers (domestic servitude).


Regulatory services said that they are developing work in this area. Modern Slavery first came to officers’ attention with people sleeping in cars. Recently they have done some targeted work with local car washes, following concerns about modern slavery at one business . They visited 17 local car washes and identified a couple with both health & safety and modern slavery concerns.


Housing also encounters people at risk when they discover issues such as overcrowding. Regulatory services are training people up so they will understand risks with Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs)  , the night time economy and places with a high risk of exploited labour such as nail bars and car washes. They are also working on getting the infrastructure in place so there is a referral process.


Tamara commented on the well attended meeting 23 January, organised by Southwark safeguarding . She endorsed the importance of having a clear pathway and a comprehensive strategy.


There was a discussion about missing children, who are unaccompanied and more at risk of exploitation/child trafficking. There are low numbers in Southwark, around 7, which is low but still present.  The Director of Children and Families said that missing includes a foster carer saying a child not returning at 10pm. He said that he did not think Southwark had an issue as he was confident the council had very good practices in place in this area; however he will be looking into this matter further. There is an Ofsted report due out soon which will look at Southwark’s practice with missing children.


The police added that they are looking at repeat missing episodes from care. They thought those at most risk are children homed away from the borough. There is also an issue with children who are criminal exploited and committing crimes e.g. ‘county lines’. This is not a new thing, but is something that is now being focused on by partners. . When the police do surveillance they see both children and vulnerable adults exploited. There is more to be done locally to address repeated missing incidents that often lead to county lines. Social workers and parents have good intelligence on this that can be utilised.  .Tamara added that Lewisham has done a really good piece of prevention work on mapping risks and vulnerabilities.


The key recommendations from the session were:


  Set up child exploitation sub groups to look across the spectrum including: CSE, county lines,  modern slavery -to get a fuller picture as children often experience many different forms of exploitation and abuse

  Create or merge specialist council leads on Child Trafficking /Criminal Exploitation/ Child Sexual Exploitation

  Consistently treat all unaccompanied children as potential victims of slavery

  Make sure Section 47 is done for all those children

  Ensure that Southwark has the right systems in place to track unaccompanied children /child trafficking victims in our care, and monitor risks like going missing

  Ensure frontline staff including social workers and councillors are trained to identify possible victims of modern slavery /child trafficking. 

  Create Modern Slavery Champions within the Council (similar the mental health champions) and identify SPOC

  Setting up a task and finish group on Modern Slavery, that would include housing, and would ensure that there is an integrated and comprehensive plan including a referral process

  consider creating an Adult MASH

  Report annually on progress on implementing the Modern Slavery charter

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