New Clause 51 - Safety plan for child victims of human trafficking

Part of Nationality and Borders Bill – in a Public Bill Committee am 4:15 pm ar 4 Tachwedd 2021.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Tom Pursglove Tom Pursglove Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Ministry of Justice and Home Office) 4:15, 4 Tachwedd 2021

I, too, am grateful to the hon. Lady for the constructive way in which she has gone about her work on the Committee. I know how passionate she is about these issues.

Support for potential victims, including children, is a fundamental pillar of our approach to assisting those impacted by the horrendous crime of trafficking and modern slavery and reducing the risk of such victims being retrafficked. As the Committee may be aware, independent child trafficking guardians are an independent source of advice and support for potentially trafficked children, irrespective of nationality, and they can advocate on a child’s behalf. So far, the Government have rolled out the service to two thirds of local authorities across England and Wales. We have developed detailed policy for the provision of the service, which is set out in the interim independent child trafficking guardians guidance published under section 49 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The guidance is kept under review through consultation with stakeholders.

Within the guidance, the Government are already clear that acting in the child’s best interests must always be a primary consideration for the independent child trafficking guardian service. We are also clear that independent child trafficking guardians must be invited and provided with the opportunity to take part in all agency meetings and discussions that relate to and impact on the children that they are supporting. That is the correct place for detail on the function of the independent child trafficking guardian service. By keeping that detail in guidance—rather than putting it in legislation, as the new clause would—the Government can respond flexibly to best practice and victims’ needs.

Local authorities are responsible for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of all children in their area, including child victims of modern slavery. The “Working Together to Safeguard Children” statutory guidance is clear that the individual needs of children, including the risk of re-trafficking, should be taken into account when determining their recovery needs. That is to ensure that safeguarding processes and multi-agency support can be put in place to protect and prevent harm to children at risk of a range of exploitation harms and abuse. The approach enables us to focus on a range of exploitation harms, whereas the new clause would stipulate that we focus specifically on the risk of retrafficking. Although I am sure that that was not the new clause’s intention, prioritising safeguarding against the risk of retrafficking could consequentially lead to the prioritisation of action against specifically the risk of retrafficking in place of other risks, which would inherently pose a risk to individuals whose risk of retrafficking may not be the primary consideration. With that, I encourage the hon. Lady not to press her new clause.