An influential group of MPs has said it is “disturbed” by a lack of action to tackle human trafficking among local authorities outside London.
The Commons home affairs committee went on to call for “a much more concerted effort” on the part of councils to use their local knowledge to identify trafficking victims.
In a report, the committee praised a trafficking tool-kit launched by London Councils and the London Safeguarding Children Board earlier this year.
But committee chairman Keith Vaz said it was clear from a Local Government Association submission that confusion still existed over how to detect trafficking, and over how to differentiate exploitative child trafficking from other forms of illegal child immigration, despite government guidance.
He said that as well as using their child-protection expertise, councils should also be using routine inspections of various local businesses to build up intelligence about potential adult trafficking.
“We applaud the imaginative action being taken by a number of London borough councils, and the fact that they appear to be conscious of the need to spread experience and best practice,” he said.
“We are, however, disturbed that yet again the initiatives seem confined to London – or if they are not, the LGA appears unaware of them.
“There must be a much more concerted effort to use local knowledge and the opportunities provided by existing activities to identify trafficking victims.”
One children’s services source, who did not want to be named, said he did not believe that good practice on combating child trafficking was limited to London – pointing out that the London toolkit was also being piloted by Glasgow City Council, Solihull MBC and Kent CC among others.
Jasmine Ali, head of the Local Government Intelligence Unit’s Children’s Services Network, said she believed that human trafficking was seen as primarily a police matter and that it was important councils acted as the local eyes and ears for them and the borders service.
“It’s vital that local authorities support the victims of trafficking, but it is a criminal offence and it should be dealt with as such,” she said.