Vietnamese children ‘at risk of being trafficked from care’

London ( Community Care , Sept 18.2017): Vietnamese children identified as potential victims of modern slavery are at risk of being re-trafficked in the UK, according to a report from the anti-slavery commissioner.

Councils’ ability to stop Vietnamese young people going missing from care is “fraught with difficulty”, according to the report, with the “frequency and speed” with which they disappear a “significant issue”.

The report said that, due to children’s common surnames and “little or no biometric data available”, police services looking for missing children had “low expectations that they would find them quickly, if at all. This means they are exposed to the risk of further exploitation and re-trafficking.”

The findings follow research commissioned in 2016 by the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland, into the exploitation of Vietnamese nationals en route to, and within, the UK. In 2016, Vietnamese was the second most common nationality of potential victims of modern slavery referred in the UK.

The report highlighted the difficulty in finding appropriate placements for children, stating that secure accommodation “is typically seen as inappropriate and is often already over-subscribed”, while the “the speed at which children can leave sheltered nonsecure accommodation presents significant challenges”.

Evidence from National Referral Mechanism (NRM) files provided insight into how minors are directly re-trafficked from care, it added. In one case, a victim was placed in the same care facility as others who had been exploited alongside them. When two of the other victims contacted their trafficker out of fear of what might happen if they did not, the third person felt that they had no choice but to comply. Fear of reprisal led a further victim to contact their trafficker, while others were either located by their trafficker while out walking or befriended by a trafficker while in care.

‘False ages’

The report also said professionals faced difficulties in determining the ages of potential victims, with some “purposefully” providing a false age “in order to gain an immigration advantage”.

In cases where Vietnamese minors are being exploited, teenagers “on the cusp of adulthood” are typically targeted, which can “make it challenging for professionals to differentiate between minors and adults”.

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