4. Part Two: Guidance
Part Two of the consultation sought wider views on the roles, responsibilities, and functions of an ICTG; that would inform supporting guidance for the role. The questions in this section were all open.
Consultation responses in this section will inform the development of the wider responsibilities of the child trafficking guardian and ensure that the best possible support is in place for trafficked children.
Support for victims of child trafficking
Question 8: We asked what additional support measures a child trafficking guardian could provide, or facilitate provision of, to best support trafficked children.
Of the 90% (36) who responded, all agreed that a guardian should provide additional support measures needed for trafficked children. The role of the guardian should be to help trafficked children navigate complex systems by providing advice and information, including on such topics as asylum claims and immigration, housing, care, counselling, accommodation, trauma support and child protection. In addition, some respondents thought advocacy should be a core part of a guardian's role in safeguarding and supporting children and young people. The role of the guardian needs to be flexible to ensure that guardians, alongside agencies, are able to act in the best interests of the child.
Respondents were of the view that guardians should have a strong link with agencies (including social work, housing and education) and work in partnership with them to ensure the child's health, accommodation and educational needs are met. Some indicated that guidance would need to be clear that any signposting or services the child would be referred to by a guardian, should come from the assessment and care plan carried out by social work and other agencies.
In addition to the core activities for an ICTG identified by respondents in answer to question 5, respondents identified the following as core support measures an ICTG could provide or facilitate the provision of:
- Providing help to access specialist victim support services, trauma support and counselling;
- Supporting access to translation and communication support;
- Supporting advocacy and the young people's views to be heard e.g. supporting access to Children Right's and Advocacy Services;
- Advocating on the child's behalf;
- Ensuring the young people's legal rights to remain are supported, providing signposting to local legal advice and advocacy;
- Facilitating access to hobbies, activities and participation groups to help them build relationships, confidence and life skills;
- Facilitating peer support with young people in a similar situations and befriending;
- Supporting the young people to get integrated into Scotland through supporting their cultural practices and connecting them with other young people in their local communities;
- Being a mentor and providing guidance on further education, employment opportunities and career options;
- Providing a safe space where young people feel relaxed; and
- Supporting the child to maintain family links and/or find family.
Scottish Government Response: Policy guidance to support the new ICTG service will reflect the proposed additional measures required specifically to support the needs of children and young people who have been victims of trafficking in line with 90% of respondents who agreed with these.
We will also reflect the need for all ICTGs to work closely and collaboratively with other agencies to ensure that children and young people being supported by the ICTG service can access the full range of advice and supports they need to integrate into community living.
Support to Prevent Re-Trafficking
Question 9: We asked what additional support, if any, could the ICTG provide to minimise the risk of vulnerable children and young people being re-trafficked.
Of the 87.5% (35) who responded, all strongly agreed that a young person should continue to receive support whilst it was needed. There were a number of suggestions about ways that this support could be delivered (e.g. group work, drop-ins, telephone or email contact).
Good quality support into education, employment, housing, social integration and community integration; as well as financial support, teaching in independent living skills and awareness raising about the risks linked to trafficking were also cited as strong preventative measures. Access to counselling, mentoring and peer support and stable, reliable and secure positive relationships were also important.
Robust multi-agency and good partnership communication and working to ensure the child is closely monitored; as well as strong care planning and a through care and aftercare support network being put in place, were also deemed essential.
Scottish Government Response:
As there was strong agreement that additional support should be provided to minimise the risk of re-trafficking whilst it is needed, this will be included in the development and procurement of the new ICTG service and will be supported by existing corporate parenting activity across those in the public sector with corporate parenting duties.
We broadly agree with the suggestions made in response to the additional support requirements. However, further considerations will need to be made to ensure that the role of the Guardian is complementary to the work of other statutory services and does not duplicate support being provided by other services.
Appeal Rights Exhausted
Question 10: We asked what support for Appeal Rights Exhausted (ARE) children and young people should the ICTG provide, and what additional support arrangements (if any) could be put in place to help the ICTG provide that support.
The general consensus among the 82.5% (33) who responded to this question was that children and young people who were deemed Appeals Right Exhausted were extremely vulnerable and at high risk of being exploited or (re)trafficked. All agreed that the ICTG should continue to support children and young people who have had their Appeal Rights Exhausted and many agreed that this should be at the same level of support as previously provided. The common view was that the ICTG's support should depend on the needs of the child and not their immigration status.
The assessment and care plan of the child should reside with social work. It was noted that there is an existing duty on local authorities under the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014 to support children in need, therefore Appeal Rights Exhausted children and young people should have their basic needs met by local authorities. A number of responses from key sector stakeholders indicated that a guardian should continue to provide practical and emotional support alongside social work. Numerous respondents wanted to ensure this duty will be captured in the regulations for the ICTG.
Respondents felt that ICTGs will have a central role in signposting and providing advice and guidance on immigration and asylum processes. Similar to question 8 of the consultation which looked at what additional support should be provided by guardians, many respondents felt that the guardian had a central role in promoting the best interests of the child; empowering children to make informed decisions; providing guidance; advocating for their rights; providing support into employment when the young person has permission to work; and facilitating access to specialised services through the child care plan like counselling.
Given the change in a child or young person's legal status at this stage, many respondents were clear that a guardian has an essential role in ensuring the child or young person has the right legal support and representation. It was suggested that guardians could potentially provide support to engage with lawyers; get non-legal information about future options; support to engage with ongoing Home Office requirements; or potentially gather further evidence that may assist in the preparation of a fresh immigration claim (where appropriate).
For cases where the decision has been made by the Home Office that a child or young person will be returned home to their country of origin, respondents were clear that the guardian would have a key supporting role, given they would have developed a trusting relationship with the child. On a practical level, it was proposed that guardians could help the child prepare for leaving the country ensuring they have clothes, contact details, bank card, etc. and possibly help the child make contact with family in the country they are being returned to.
Scottish Government response:
There was general consensus that children should continue to be supported despite their status as Appeals Rights Exhausted. This will be reflected in the development and procurement of the new ICTG service.
We broadly agree with the suggestions of what this support should look like and will take these into consideration to ensure that support in these circumstances is appropriate when we are developing and procuring the new ICTG service.
Question 11: We asked what information needs to be shared between the statutory professionals supporting the child/young person and the independent child trafficking guardian (whilst adhering to data protection and other information sharing principles).
Of the 92.5% (37) who responded, the majority agreed that proportionate and necessary information sharing in line with Data Protection and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation and consent protocols would be needed to allow the ICTG and local authorities to carry out their legal duties towards the child or young person. The importance of this being carried out in an effective, accurate and timely manner were emphasised as being crucial to ensuring the wellbeing, safeguarding and best interests of the child; as well as in supporting the ICTG's role as an advocate for the child and to prevent re-trafficking. Data held by the local authority should be shared via pathway planning and child protection processes.
There were concerns raised about the inconsistency of current information sharing practice and whether information sharing agreements would be needed between the local authority and ICTG, with a call for clear guidance from the Scottish Government, particularly following the repeal of parts 4 and 5 of the Children and Young Persons (Scotland) Act 2014.
Additional appropriate information could be shared, provided the consent of the child or young person is given. Any child protection concerns the ICTG has would need to be shared with the local authority immediately.
Scottish Government Response: There is general agreement that data sharing principles should be in line with current Data Protection and GDPR legislation and this will be reflected in the specification for the role. In addition there is a request for clear guidance on how data should be shared between partners working on behalf of young people.
Question 12: We asked, in the event that it is necessary for a complaint or grievance to be made about a child trafficking guardian, what procedures and processes should the service provider have in place to ensure accountability and quality improvement of the ICTG and the service.
From the 80% (32) of responses, two key themes emerged: general principles relating to complaints procedures; and ICTG specific suggestions.
There was significant agreement that the organisation must have clear and transparent complaint and grievance procedures in place that are understandable by both young people and professionals, and that these should be easily accessible to all. Complaints procedures should meet the standards as set out by the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO). It was also highlighted that there should be clear routes for reporting and escalation of complaints and that there should be mechanisms for professionals to make complaints on the behalf of young people.
It was also suggested that as a practical measure, all organisational policies and procedures (including codes of practice) should be integrated into in-house training for staff, to ensure that the guardians fully understand what is expected of them and what the correct procedure is in the event of a complaint or grievance; and that this should be continually monitored and evaluated.
A small number of key stakeholders indicated in their responses that, given the statutory nature of the guardian's role, registration with the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) or another scrutiny body would be beneficial in providing reassurance and safeguards for those who use the service. In some responses it was suggested that, short of full registration with SSSC, codes of practice together with policy and procedures should be aligned with those of SSSC.
Scottish Government Response: It is generally agreed by respondents that a robust complaints procedure is necessary to ensure that all parties that are either supported by, or work alongside, guardians have a mechanism to address any concerns or grievances that may arise. It is intended that any contract holder will have robust complaints procedures in place and that this will be reflected in the specification for the new service. We would expect that any code of conduct would align with existing sector examples and reflect the SPSO guidelines. We will work with the contract holder to ensure that there is a robust complaints procedure in place.