Research on child trafficking in Scotland

Date: 19th November 2020
Category: Equal protection from violence


This study was commissioned by Scottish Government to quantify how many children and young people are victims of trafficking. It also sought to establish their geographical routes into Scotland, identify demographics and understand victims’ experiences of support services.

The research focused on children and young people who came to the UK across international borders.

The report found Vietnam was the country of origin for most identified victims of child trafficking. However, there remain many unknown features and aspects of journeys and routes for most children. The findings are of the study are not definitive due to limited information available and the number of agencies who engaged. The identification and profiling of child victims of human trafficking in Scotland remains problematic.

The study identified that referrals to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) appear to take priority over child protection referrals. Subsequently, inconsistencies in adherence to child protection procedures were reported.

The report outlines various areas that require attention, including:

  • Ensure that a multi-agency child protection response takes priority above referral to the NRM.
  • Clarify which indicators relate to possible exploitation and which reflect movement and migration.
  • Identify and support UK children as potential victims of trafficking by undertaking additional training and awareness-raising for professionals.
  • Have clearer guidance for professionals in respect of what information must be shared with which agencies and for what purpose.
  • For agencies providing support for children and young people in Scotland, issues of credibility and consistency of their stories should not become the prime focus for professionals. Instead, further efforts are needed to give children and young people time to share their background stories in a trusting and safe environment.
  • A central Scottish repository is required to collate information and to monitor prevalence and patterns relating to children exploited through trafficking.

Read the study in full here.