Unaccompanied children seeking asylum and child trafficking

Children and young people under the age of 18 who arrive in Scotland without parents or guardians are defined as unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC).   

We are working with COSLA and the UK Government to deliver the National Transfer Scheme (NTS). The NTS is a mechanism that enables the safe transfer of UASC between local authorities. The scheme operates on a rota basis and enables the safe dispersal of UASC across the UK and was mandated in November 2021.  

Asylum is a matter reserved to the UK Government. Many of the services, which are essential to supporting UASC to settle into communities, are devolved and are the responsibility of the Scottish Government and Scottish local authorities. This includes health, education and accommodation. The New Scots Refugee Integration Strategy 2018-2022 (2018) sets out Scotland’s approach to support the vision of a welcoming Scotland.  

Child trafficking 

Unaccompanied asylum seeking children (UASC) arriving in Scotland may have been a victim of, or may be vulnerable to becoming a victim of, human trafficking. It is often difficult to establish directly if an unaccompanied child presenting in Scotland has been a victim of trafficking.  

The new statutory Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) service launched April 2023 as set out in our Programme for Government 2021 to 2022.

The service provides valuable support for unaccompanied children who have been victims of child trafficking, or are considered to be at risk of being trafficked.   

The Child Trafficking Strategy Group meets on a quarterly basis. It brings together the specific elements of Scotland’s Trafficking and Exploitation Strategy which relate to children who are, or may be, victims of human trafficking and exploitation.   

If you are concerned about a child or young person

Call 999 if they are in immediate danger

Call the police on 101 if you think a crime has been committed

More about reporting a concern and for advice and support

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