Councils have warned the number of child victims of modern slavery referred for support has risen by 800% in the past five years.
The number of council referrals of suspected child victims of modern slavery in England has risen from 127 in 2014 to 1,152 in 2018, an 807% increase.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said the ‘spiralling’ rate was being fuelled by children being exploited by county lines drugs gangs and an increasing awareness of modern slavery.
The LGA said the increase is putting extra pressure on children’s services as councils receive no specific funding to support victims of modern slavery.
‘The spiralling rate of council referrals, especially relating to children who face specific risks through county lines drug trafficking or child sexual exploitation, is having a huge impact on overstretched council services, particularly children’s services,’ said cllr Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board.
‘Extra funding next year will help but government needs to ensure councils have adequate long-term resources to tackle this abuse and support its victims, as well as creating a sustainable NRM system in the long term.’