A recent report from the National Crime Agency in the UK has everyone talking. On the surface, the news is disheartening. The number of British national children referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) has gone up by an astonishing 66 percent since 2016. While most articles I’ve read mention in passing that this surge is attributed to the increase in awareness, they also point to the county lines as being responsible for the increase. This can be misleading.
While the county lines (a police term for the supply of drugs from urban centers to the suburbs) might be the enterprise wherein children are exploited, the why behind the increase in the numbers lies in a different place. In fact, the new numbers don’t point to an actual surge, but a noticeable change in practice of frontline staff who have received better NRM training and are now able to identify these children.
And, rather than being devastated by the new reported numbers, let’s realize that more trafficked children were recognized and given access to resources that they need. The UK has effective resources to offer Child Sexual Exploitation victims, and front-line practitioners have shown that with the right training they are able to recognize a victim of human trafficking when faced with one. This is a significant step towards creating a safer world for children.
Here at Love146, we serve non-national child victims of human trafficking, but we know that this increased ability to recognize victims will benefit all children, not just those we support. That’s why all our practitioners go through extensive training.
Specialist training might not make a great headline — but makes all the difference in the world to the children and young people who are helped by it.
So, while the fact that British children are being trafficked in large number is heart-breaking, we’re pleased that these children are now being recognized.
The real tragedy continues to be the children who live on our back doorstep and are unrecognize by anyone. Our hope is that we’ll see an equal rise in the recognition of those children — giving all children, regardless of nationality, access to the support and care they are entitled to.