In October 2015 the Scottish Parliament passed the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 ("the Act"). The Act received Royal Assent on 4 November 2015.
Section 11 of the 2015 Act places a duty on Scottish Ministers to make arrangements for an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian (ICTG) to be appointed to assist, support and represent a child. The legislation stipulates that a child is entitled to a guardian if a relevant local authority determines that there are reasonable grounds to believe that the child:
- is, or may be, a victim of the offence of human trafficking, or
- is vulnerable to becoming a victim of that offence, and
- no person in the United Kingdom is a person with parental rights or responsibilities in relation to the child.
The Act defines a 'child' as being under 18 years of age. It is the intention of the legislation that all children and young people who arrive in Scotland unaccompanied, and who will have undergone an arduous journey alone, are considered to be at risk of having been trafficked or becoming trafficked and would be referred to the ICTG for support. Only children who have been a victim, or who may be a potential victim, of human trafficking for whom no one in the UK has parental rights or responsibilities will be eligible for an ICTG. Existing legislative provisions and standard child protection processes and procedures will continue to be used by all relevant organisations. Local authorities will continue to meet their duties towards all children and young people for whom they have responsibility as set out in the Acts of the Scottish Parliament, which legislate for children and young people. 
It is the intention that the functions of the ICTG must be such that they complement, rather than conflict or compete with, existing statutory roles. They should focus on where they can add value in supporting these eligible children and address any gaps in support which are needed to meet their specific needs. It is important that this service provides the same level of support for all eligible children and young people regardless of where they have presented in Scotland.
The development of the ICTG as a statutory body ensures that appropriate and compassionate support is in place for child victims of trafficking and, in line with the conclusions of the Independent Care Review published in February 2020, reiterates Scotland's responsibility to all unaccompanied asylum seeking children.
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