WARWICKSHIRE is leading a new approach to tackle child modern slavery.
Responsibility for decision making around child victims of modern slavery in Warwickshire is being granted to Warwickshire County Council following a successful bid to participate in a Home Office pilot involving ten local authorities across the UK.
Modern slavery is a complex crime and may involve several forms of exploitation including human trafficking, slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour. Victims may not be aware that they are being trafficked or exploited, and may have consented to elements of their exploitation, or accepted their situation.
The new pilot from the Home Office means decisions about whether a child is a victim of modern slavery will now be made by the local authority with partner agency colleagues, including police, health, education, youth justice and social care, moving decision making closer to those involved in the care of children, which will more effectively keep in mind the local support available.
From April 2021 to March 2022, WCC made 28 child slavery referrals to the Home Office, ensuring they receive the appropriate support. With the responsibility for decision making now sitting with the council, alongside more activity due to take place to raise awareness of child slavery in Warwickshire, this number is expected to increase.
The action being taken against modern slavery across the county goes beyond the pilot. Earlier this year, Warwickshire was also included in the National Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship Service, a Home Office service run by Barnardo’s, offering advice, guidance and support for children under 18 who have been exploited through trafficking and modern slavery.
Residents can play a part in spotting the signs of modern slavery. Some indicators include:
* Evidence of a workplace being used for accommodation
* Child or young person seems distrustful of authorities
* Child or young person looks uneasy, unkempt or malnourished
* Signs of psychological trauma
* Untreated injuries
* Evidence of control over movement (being picked up and dropped off in groups)
* Signs of substance misuse
* Child or young person doesn’t know work or home address
WCC children and families spokesman Coun Jeff Morgan said: “Pilot areas were identified by the Home Office through a competitive process, which was open to all local authorities in the UK with children’s social care responsibility. We are therefore really pleased Warwickshire’s bid has been successful.
“Every child in Warwickshire has a right to feel safe, and with the council having more responsibility, we can make decisions at a quicker pace and implement local safeguarding where needed.”
Abby Groves, senior policy advisor in the Modern Slavery Unit at the Home Office added: “I am delighted that Warwickshire County Council has accepted the offer to join the pilot and I am looking forward to working with them over the coming months to implement the pilot in their area and working with them to support victim identification of child victims of modern slavery.”
Residents can learn more about the signs of modern slavery and exploitation by visiting www.somethingsnotright.co.uk
You do not need to be certain that someone is a victim, but if you think you have seen modern slavery taking place in Warwickshire, contact Children & Families Front Door on 01926 414144.