Norman Baker MP today joined dozens of school campaigners to debate and discuss the issue of child trafficking in the UK.
UNICEF UK – which says at least 10 children are trafficked every week in the UK – organised the event at Central Hall Westminster which included a lively panel discussion chaired by Channel 4 broadcaster and UNICEF UK supporter Jon Snow.
Crime Prevention Minister Norman Baker said: “Modern slavery crushes lives and causes immeasurable damage to victims of all ages. But the exploitation and enslavement of children is one of the most appalling aspects of this crime.
“I am grateful to the young campaigners that I met today for their hard work and commitment to raising awareness of this issue.
“The Coalition Government’s Modern Slavery Bill, the first of its kind in Europe, will give law enforcement the tools to stamp out this crime and increase support and protection for victims.
“We are also putting in place a trial of specialist independent child trafficking advocates, who will ensure that the child victims' voices are heard and that this particularly vulnerable group receive the support they need and deserve.”
Anita Tiessen, UNICEF UK’s Deputy Executive Director, who sat on the panel with the Minister said: “Child trafficking is an abhorrent crime that our school campaigners are passionate about ending. So it was fantastic to have the Minister come and meet with them to discuss the issue, including the importance of putting children at the centre of efforts to tackle human trafficking and modern slavery.
“These dynamic young campaigners are determined to help end child trafficking so this was a fantastic opportunity for them to hand the Minister UNICEF UK’s Stop Child Trafficking campaign petition, which has been signed by 50,000 people. They said they got a lot from the discussion and are more determined than ever to support to Government efforts to end this atrocity.”
Jon Snow added: “How we respond to child trafficking defines us as a society.”
The panel included two young people from the Child Trafficking Advice Centre.
Notes to editors:
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ABOUT NORMAN BAKER MP
Norman Baker was appointed Minister of State for Crime Prevention in October 2013. He is the Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere. UNICEF UK raises funds for UNICEF’s emergency and development work and advocates for lasting change for children everywhere. We are a UK registered charity, supported entirely by voluntary donations. We do not receive any money from the UN. For more information, please visit unicef.org.uk
The NSPCC’s Child Trafficking Advice Centre provides child protection advice, training, information and support to professionals across the UK concerned about child trafficking. It carries out and supports casework, makes referrals to other agencies such as children's services that can protect a child, and is a first responder to the National Referral Mechanism - a framework for identifying and supporting victims of trafficking.