More than 150 Vietnamese children who were placed in council care in the UK after being rescued from traffickers have disappeared amid fears that they are back under the control of slave masters, it has been reported.
Since 2015, most children go missing within two days of being placed in care, the Times said.
After obtaining the statistics under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, the paper reported that 8,670 children were recorded missing at least once while in care last year with most cases lasting from only from a few hours to two days.
But FOI requests with 430 local authorities showed 152 Vietnamese children have permanently disappeared and 88 others have gone missing temporarily.
Baroness Eilzabeth Butler-Sloss, who is chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on human trafficking and modern slavery, said there were far more at risk.
“The Home Office should explore the possibility of identifying that Vietnamese children present a particular, special problem and are most likely to leave immediately or quickly after coming to care. Some special arrangement should be made for them,” she told the Times.
James Simmonds-Read, of the Children’s Society, said that children did not feel safe and so would go “back to the people that trafficked and abused them”.
Helen Johnson, head of children’s services at the Refugee Council, said that almost every Vietnamese child smuggled into the UK was in debt bondage which some local authorities were not aware of.
“If children are treated with hostility, they’ll believe what traffickers tell them: that they won’t be helped or believed and that they are in debt,” she said.
The Home Office said it would help develop an advocate system for councils to address young trafficking victims.
“We have strengthened regulations on children’s homes and placed a duty on local authorities to tell us about all incidences of children going missing from care, even those lasting less than 24 hours,” a spokesman said.
In August, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said in August there were more than 300 current police operations tackling slavery in the UK, with cases affecting “every large town and city in the country”.
Source : IBtimes