Nearly a quarter of trafficked children were reported as going missing from care in 2017, a new study has revealed.
Still in Harms Way, published by the charity Every Child Protected Against Trafficking, shows that in 2017 almost one in four (24%) trafficked children were reported as going missing from care (246 of 1,015).
Written with the charity Missing People, the report also reveals that 15% of unaccompanied children were reported as going missing from care (729 of 4,765) in the same year.
Almost 20% (190) of the total number of trafficked and unaccompanied children reported missing have not been found.
The charities say action should be taken to improve safeguarding at the local level.
‘The latest data paints a bleak picture of continuing failures to safeguard these children. Ultimately, each missing incident represents a safeguarding failure,’ said Catherine Baker, senior research, policy and campaigns officer at ECPAT UK.
‘Too often these children are treated as criminals or immigration offenders, rather than vulnerable children requiring support. Too often, they are placed in unsafe accommodation, or have not been made to feel safe by those responsible for their care.
‘Each one of these children deserves specialist support, as well as an independent, legal guardian to support them, yet neither are currently guaranteed for every child.
‘We also need every local authority to be systematically recording this information, with central Government collating and reporting on it regularly.
‘The latest figures should be a wakeup call to this Government, to urgently prioritise resourcing frontline services so that these extremely vulnerable children are protected from harm.’