19.10 Particularly Vulnerable Groups of Children
Last updated 14/07/2021
Trafficked children who are looked after
A child who may be at risk from, or has been, trafficked, may be accommodated after initial information gathering (see section 7.2.1). In these circumstances, LA Children’s Social Care will care for the child as a looked after child.
The assessment of needs to inform the care plan should cover the same dimensions of need as the assessment for any other looked after child. However in addition, for children who may have been trafficked, the assessment should include:
- Establishing relevant information about the child’s background;
- Understanding the reasons the child has come to the UK; and
- Assessing the child’s vulnerability to the continuing influence / control of his or her traffickers.
The analysis should incorporate a risk assessment setting out how the local authority intends to safeguard the young person so that, as far as possible, they can be protected from any trafficker to minimise any risk of traffickers being able to re-involve a child in exploitative activities. This plan should include contingency plans to be followed if the young person goes missing.
Given the circumstances in which potentially trafficked young people present to local authorities it will be extremely important that any needs assessments and related risk assessments are sensitively managed. It should allow for the child’s need to be in a safe place before any assessment takes place and for the possibility that they may not be able to disclose full information about their circumstances immediately as they, or their families, may have been intimidated by traffickers.
Therefore, it will be important that:
- The location of the child should not be divulged to any enquirers until they have been interviewed by a social worker and their identity and relationship / connection with the child established, if necessary with the help of police and immigration services.
- Foster carers / residential workers should be vigilant about anything unusual (e.g. waiting cars outside the premises and telephone enquiries). See the additional good practice guide in part three of the Trafficked Children Toolkit for more information.
- LA Children’s Social Care should continue to share information with the police. This information may emerge during the placement of a looked after child who may have been trafficked and concern potential crimes against the child, the risk to other children, or relevant immigration matters.
Where adults present in this country claim a family connection to the child, then the local authority should take steps to verify the relationship between the child and these adults and exercise due caution in case they are a trafficker or a relative colluding with trafficking or exploitation of the child.
Anyone approaching the local authority and claiming to be a potential carer, friend, member of the family etc, of the child, should be investigated by the local authority, the police and UKBA. Normal procedures for re-uniting a child with their family should be followed. Where a child may have been trafficked it will be necessary to ensure that a risk assessment takes place prior to reunification – establishing that the adult concerned is who they say they are and is able to keep the child safe and exercise responsibility for their care.
It is important that no assumptions are made about young people’s language skills and that assessments can call on the services of impartial translators with the necessary competences in responding to children.
The local authority responsible for the child should try to identify, locate and make contact with the child’s parents in the country of origin, to seek their views21. UKBA may be able to help with this.