Inter-agency guidance on child trafficking

This toolkit is designed as Scottish practice guidance to be used with the Scottish Government National Child Protection Guidance.

4. Legal Framework

The UK is a signatory to the UN Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime, the Palermo Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children that deals specifically with the trafficking of children, the European Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings and Directive 2011/36/ EU of the European Parliament and of the Council. These international agreements provide the framework for inter-government action to tackle trafficking and are the basis of the UK's national policy.

The Council of Europe convention contains specific provisions for children, and Human Trafficking; The Government's Strategy (2011) [9] has a chapter on proposals to tackle the exploitation of children. As indicated, for the purposes of provisions to meet the needs of trafficking victims a child is defined as any person under the age of 18 years.

UK legislation and policy makes it clear that trafficking is both a crime and a violation of human rights, and the strategy focuses both on the disruption and reduction of trafficking and providing support for adult and child victims. The focus for national and international developments is prevention, protection and prosecution. The UK strategy proposes a comprehensive approach to tackling trafficking:

  • commitment to improving victim care arrangements
  • focuses on disrupting trafficking networks before they reach the UK
  • establishes a basis for smarter multi-agency action at the border
  • aims to improve coordination of our law enforcement efforts in the UK
  • seeks to strengthen intelligence-gathering and -sharing through the new National Crime Agency
  • places emphasis on raising awareness of child trafficking and ensuring child victims are safeguarded and protected from re-trafficking

Delivery of the strategy is a multi-agency concern between central and local government, law enforcement agencies and voluntary and community groups. Child Protection Committees in Scotland are responsible for co-ordinating services and responses in terms of child trafficking victims at a local level. The UK strategy recognises that children who have been trafficked are particularly vulnerable and will have very specific needs, and that their care, protection and support will be crucial in enabling them to recover from their experiences and return to a normal life. All trafficked children are entitled to the same level of care and protection and to have their welfare safeguarded and promoted as those normally resident in the UK, regardless of their immigration status.


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