This report, authored by Ailish Saker, University of Oxford, explores the role of practitioner evidence in responding to child exploitation in the UK, how such evidence is used to improve the welfare of survivors, and how it is used to determine policy and research.
The report draws on the expertise and experience of a multi-sector delegation of practitioners, academics, policymakers, and survivors who attended a two-day conference in October 2021 hosted by Cumberland Lodge and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. The conference was supported by an expert steering committee and was informed by a call for evidence which invited practitioners, academics, and policymakers to share promising practice in responses to child exploitation and trafficking. The conference incorporated the views and expertise of survivors and explored how decisions to safeguard children from exploitation are made in the best interests of the child and facilitate the voice of the child.
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The report was launched live from central London on 11 April 2022. You can find out more about the launch, and watch the on-demand video of the livestream here.
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Recommendation 1: for Government to recognise the
structural harm and exclusion affecting Black, Asian and minority
ethnic children in policy.
Recommendation 2: training in cultural competency should be introduced for all practitioners working on child trafficking and modern slavery.
- An external evaluation mechanism must be embedded within all training to monitor impact and continually improve future training.
Recommendation 3: Local Child Safeguarding Partnerships (England and Wales), Child Protection Committees (Scotland) and the Safeguarding Board for Northern Ireland should ensure new practice and policies across all sectors are co-produced, where appropriate, with the children and survivors who are most affected by their implementation.
- This involves working alongside young people and their families in the creation of both individual care plans and models of support.
- It is essential that victims and survivors are appropriately compensated for their time and energy.
- Further attention should also be given to skills training and development opportunities informed by survivors’ experiences and wishes.
Recommendation 4: building on the early success of contextual safeguarding pilots, a contextual safeguarding approach to child trafficking cases should be widely encouraged.
- There is a need for the research team to be embedded within the projects to ensure progress is effectively monitored.
- Also, there is a pressing need for research briefings to inform the development of practical resources (for example, the safety maps tool) to share best practice across the sector.
Recommendation 5: the IASC should support the development of a child trafficking and modern slavery ‘community of practice’ which collates, shares and evaluates up-to-date practitioner evidence across the sector.
- This includes introducing a regular cross-sector conference to bring together key stakeholders. The conference should act as an accountability mechanism where practitioners can regularly review steps being taken within each sector, based on previous recommendations and discussions.
- Practitioners and academics should give further attention to a public health approach and harm perspective, in addition to a criminal justice response.
Recommendation 6: increased opportunities should be created for professionals to participate in job shadowing, joint training and joint investigative training.
- There is a need for regular visits to other agencies and organisations to learn from others working in the field, including hearing from more survivors and frontline practitioners.
Recommendation 7: serious case reviews to be considered as an opportunity for safeguarding partnerships to reflect on all cases, and in particular learning from, and sharing, good practice.
Recommendation 8: to ensure child trafficking is reflected in the existing cross-Government strategic activity on extra-familial harm led by the Department for Education and the Department of Health and Social Care.
- It must be co-produced with survivors and stakeholders working closely with devolved agencies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- Attention should be paid to the transition of child victims into adulthood, ensuring greater strategic focus.
Recommendation 9: the Home Office should provide data on the ethnic backgrounds of those referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
Recommendation 10: Local Child Safeguarding Partnerships and their equivalents in the Devolved Administrations should ensure training in delivering a consistent trauma-informed and empathetic response is implemented for all police officers and other front line practitioners dealing with victims of modern slavery.
- The focus in the training should include survivor experiences and the child’s perspective.