Field report: Legislation to Help End Child Trafficking (UK)


To improve protection measures for children at risk of trafficking and for victims or survivors of trafficking by calling for the Modern Slavery Bill to include the following four provisions: 1) the creation of a nationwide legal guardian scheme, 2) the establishment of an independent anti-trafficking commissioner, 3) the creation of a specific crime of child trafficking that reflects the severity of this abuse of children, and 4) the protection for victims so that they are not imprisoned for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers.


According to Government figures, there were only eight convictions under United Kingdom human trafficking legislation in 2011. The government was about to introduce a draft of the Modern Slavery Bill in the UK.

In partnership with ECPAT UK, a campaign was launched in November 2013 that urged the then UK Home Secretary, Theresa May MP, to ensure the needs of children be prioritized in the government’s new Modern Slavery Bill.

We asked advocates to sign a petition calling for her help to end child trafficking by including our proposed measures in the Modern Slavery Bill.


With the signatures of 85,000 advocates, we strengthened ECPAT UK’s calls which resulted in substantial improvements to the Modern Slavery Bill. On becoming an Act of Parliament, it provided for an Anti-Slavery Commissioner; an Advocates Scheme for children; and a statutory defense for victims of trafficking who were forced to commit crimes. According to an ECPAT publication in March 2015: Today we herald the passage of historic legislation to protect victims of modern slavery, forced labor, and child exploitation but we warn there is still much work to do to stamp out human trafficking in the UK and across the world.  All four of our campaign asks have been heeded and either fully or partly implemented in the new act.

Our partner in this campaign:


ECPAT UK is the UK national representative of ECPAT International, a global network of 80 children’s rights organisations in 74 countries. Since 1994, ECPAT UK’s targeted and focused campaigns and activities have been successful in improving child protection, including the introduction of new UK legislation and the ratification of relevant international conventions, and in raising awareness about child trafficking, exploitation and the abuse of children by British sex offenders at home and abroad.