The Scottish Government’s approach to child trafficking is set in a wider approach to child protection: We have embedded the issue of child trafficking firmly within our National Guidance on Child Protection 2010 . This guidance contains a dedicated section on child trafficking, which places child trafficking firmly within child protection practices. Local areas should have protocols on child trafficking in place and all staff should be aware of these protocols.
The key source of information is the national guidance on child trafficking Safeguarding Children in Scotland who may have been Trafficked. This guidance outlines the reasons for child trafficking; the methods used by traffickers; the roles and functions of relevant agencies; and the procedures to follow to ensure the safety of children suspected of being trafficked.
National Referral Mechanism
The Children (Scotland) Act 1995 places a duty on local authorities to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who are in need, regardless of their immigration status or nationality. Trafficked children, once identified and if in continuing need of support and care, therefore become the responsibility of a local authority.
The UK Government has advised that cases of child trafficking should be referred using a specially designed form. Recognising the particular characteristics, risks and organisational engagement surrounding this type of child abuse all referrals to the Competent Authority should come from the child's lead professional or their equivalent in local authority social work departments. The competent authorities are United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre and United Kingdom Border Agency.
This system is intended to support agencies and their staff to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who may have been trafficked. The referral form incorporates a matrix of evidence based indicators which have been established through research into child trafficking and will help the professional to develop their report.
Scottish Guardianship Project
Since September 2010, the Scottish Government is funding the Aberlour Child Care Trust and the Scottish Refugee Council to pilot a Guardianship Service for all separated children, including those who may have been trafficked. This service is the first of its kind in the UK and demonstrates the Scottish Government’s commitment to ensuring that all children in Scotland get the help they need when they need it.
Children newly arrived in Scotland are allocated a guardian who sees them as regularly as necessary and acts as a link between all services and professionals that are involved, assisting them in understanding the complex immigration and welfare processes, advocating on their behalf and helping them to make informed decisions.
More information on the project can be found at the Aberlour website.