Monday 08 October 2007

CEOP welcomes the launch of the NSPCC’s Helpline to combat child trafficking in the UK

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre welcomes the launch of the NSPCC’s advice line to help protect children trafficked to the UK against sexual exploitation, forced labour, drugs transport, benefit fraud, and other crimes.

The NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice and Information Line (CTAIL) on 0800 107 7057 will help provide relevant professionals, such as social workers, teachers, immigration officers, the police, and others working or volunteering with children, to help identify and safeguard child victims. It will also shed light on the scale of child trafficking in the UK.

CEOP staff will working alongside NSPCC and will be able to provide relevant advice and information to callers from a child-focussed law enforcement perspective, and provide a link to the UK’s Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) for operational and tactical advice.

Chief Executive of the CEOP Centre, and ACPO Lead for Child Trafficking, Jim Gamble said:

Children are not a commodity. That they are trafficked into this country for exploitation is abhorrent and this must stop. All too often it can be difficult to recognise a trafficked child for a variety of reasons, but we must be vigilant.

The new NSPCC helpline will provide a valuable service to professionals at the front line of child protection in not only identifying child victims of trafficking and their abusers, but will work to ensure those children have the right level of care and support.

In June this year, a report published by CEOP sought to outline the scale and nature of child trafficking in the UK. Within that report over half of the children identified in the dataset were found to be missing following an earlier intervention. The report called for better support for professionals working with trafficked children and young people or those suspected to have been trafficked.

The NSPCC advice line – a free service set up with funding from the Home Office and Comic Relief – will be run in partnership with the CEOP Centre and End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT UK).

NSPCC director of children’s services Wes Cuell said:

Identifying trafficked children can be very difficult, even for a professional working in social services or immigration. These children are incredibly vulnerable – they might be regularly beaten, raped, denied food and basic comforts, and have no access to healthcare or an education.

The NSPCC’s new trafficking advice line will help break down these barriers. Its success will depend on adults working with children being vigilant, calling us when they need to know what to do, and intervening to help protect the victims of child trafficking.

Common signs that a child may have been trafficked include:

  • Children who seem confused about their living arrangements, or how they came to be in the UK.
  • Adults who appear to be controlling a child’s ability to communicate with others or take part in normal life.
  • A child being looked after by adults whose relationship to them is unclear.
  • A young person who regularly goes missing from local authority care and turns up at different locations around the country.
  • A child who is known to regularly beg for money or is linked to criminal activity.
  • A child who has not been enrolled at a school, registered with a GP and whose contact with social services is being hampered by their supposed carer.

As well as giving advice and information the line will also refer callers to other agencies, including sources of direct support for trafficked children, and provide training to professionals and community organisations working with children.

Ends

Notes to editors:

For further information on the NSPCC’s launch of the Child Trafficking Advice and Information Line visit www.nspcc.org.uk or contact the media office on 020 7825 2516 / out of hours mobile 07976 206 625.

The Child Trafficking Advice and Information Line - 0800 107 7057 - will initially operate from 9.30am till 4.30pm on weekdays. The line will accept calls from anywhere in the UK.

Members of the public with concerns about a child should call the NSPCC’s 24-hour Child Protection Helpline on 0808 800 5000.

For further information on Child Trafficking see A Scoping Project on Child Trafficking in the UK (CEOP, June 2007).

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection (CEOP) Centre is a law enforcement agency and works in both online and offline environments. Full information on all areas of work as well as online safety messages and access to online reporting can be found at www.ceop.gov.uk or for children at www.thinkuknow.co.uk. For media enquiries contact CEOP Press Office on 0870 000 3434.