Peers voted by 282 to 184 for an amendment to the Immigration Bill which, if passed by the House of Commons in May, would see child trafficking guardians with a legally recognised role put in place.

According to Christian charity CARE, part of a coalition working to improve safety for children, research has shown that the current system of care is not providing trafficked children with the protection and support that they need. Once rescued they find themselves at risk of further abuse and can even be re-trafficked. Furthermore, they can find themselves allocated to a number of different social workers, so details of their cases might be overlooked or mislaid and
relationships of trust may not be established.

If the new legislation succeeds, child trafficking guardians will work to support rescued child victims with accommodation, legal advice, asylum applications, education and medical care. The guardians will act as the single point of contact for the child, removing the need for children to come into contact with multiple adults from different agencies and providing much-needed continuity.

Welcoming the stand taken by peers, CARE chief executive Nola Leach said: ‘Finally, some of the most vulnerable children in Britain will receive the advocacy support that they need. There has been a serious lack of understanding of the needs of trafficked children. They are victims of abuse and should receive the best support and care possible so that in safety they can recover fully from the trauma they have been through.’

She added: ‘Too many children have gone missing from state care after being rescued and have tragically ended up back with the traffickers who exploited them in the first place. Ensuring child trafficking guardians are a legally recognised provision for the first time in England and Wales will make a real difference to the lives of these children and end this horrendous cycle of exploitation.’