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Friday, 13 October 2017

Scores of Vietnamese children rescued from traffickers 'disappearing' from council care

Written by The Press Association

Scores of Vietnamese children rescued from traffickers and put into council care have vanished and are feared to have fallen back into the hands of slave gangs, it is reported.

According to figures obtained by The Times, 152 Vietnamese youngsters have gone missing from their care and foster homes since 2015, and 88 have disappeared temporarily.

This summer, 12 vanished from Rochdale.

Baroness Butler-Sloss (pictured), chairwoman of the all-party parliamentary group on human trafficking and modern slavery, told the paper that the Home Office should make "some special arrangement" for the children that present a particular risk.

She added that the figures, revealed by freedom of information requests to 430 local authorities, were "very disturbing".

A total of 79 authorities did not respond to the request.

James Simmonds-Read, of the Children's Society, told the newspaper the children did not feel safe after being rescued.

He said: "We are not creating a culture where they feel safe, so children freak out and go missing and back to the people that trafficked and abused them."

Helen Johnson, head of children's services at the Refugee Council, added: "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."

The Home Office said it was developing an independent advocate system to help councils support young trafficking victims, and added that it had placed a duty on councils to flag up cases of children disappearing from care.

Rochdale council said there was "no similarity" between the street grooming scandal and the issues surrounding missing Vietnamese children.

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