People-trafficking victims with children are 'overlooked'

Woman holding hands with two children Image copyright Getty Images

Victims of people trafficking who are pregnant or have children have had their needs "systematically overlooked" in the UK, a report has suggested.

Childcare provision for victims is "patchy" and specialist healthcare is not routinely provided, the report by 12 charities said.

Its author Vicky Brotherton said having children made victims more vulnerable, but the UK was "blind to this".

Home Office minister Karen Bradley said victims were offered tailored support.

The report - by the Anti-Trafficking Monitoring Group - said the provision of access to safe accommodation, specialist healthcare and support for children was not being systematically provided.

It said some children had to be present during their parent's asylum interviews, often when abuse is disclosed to officials.

The report said: "Trafficked parents are very vulnerable to further exploitation as traffickers often use threats against a victim's child to maintain control over them.

"Yet the government's response to trafficking fails to recognise trafficking victims who are pregnant or have children as being particularly vulnerable."

Efforts often 'undermined'

Research by the 12 charities - including Amnesty International, Anti-Slavery International and Unicef UK - suggested up to 50% of the trafficking victims they offer help to are either pregnant or already have children.

But the report said a national system to identify and support victims does not include questions on pregnancy. It found there was "a post-code lottery" of service.

Ms Brotherton said having children or being pregnant adds "an extra layer of vulnerability" for victims.

"This group has special needs on top of dealing with their often traumatic trafficking experience and requires special support.

"Good practice exists in places but that's more down to experienced professionals who have developed it, but whose efforts are often undermined by the lack of systematic holistic response," she added.

Ms Bradley, minister for preventing abuse, exploitation and crime, said victims were offered support and assistance tailored to their individual circumstances.

She said the government would be announcing proposals on how best to help trafficked children in the coming weeks.

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