Lack of leadership has left human trafficking strategy in shambles, says child protection group

Child protection campaigners have branded the coalition government’s attempts to tackle human trafficking as “shambolic”.

The campaign group ECPAT UK (End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purpose) said attempts to protect victims have suffered from a lack of leadership and funding since the coalition took power last May.

The government was due to publish its strategy to combat trafficking in March, but this has been put back to June.

Christine Beddoe, the group’s director, said Home Office officials have also told her that this new strategy will not have a separate section on combating the trafficking of children.

She said: “There has been a vacuum for most of the year without any clear direction, timelines or strategy regarding human trafficking while everyone waits for this strategy. It has become shambolic and now we are told that when the strategy is released it won’t have a separate focus on children.”

However, a Home Office spokesman said the “government remains committed to working with international partners and seeking the views of expert groups in the UK to tackle this awful crime”.

He added that this had been demonstrated by the decision in March to opt in to the EU trafficking directive and proposals within the new National Crime Agency for a border police command that will target traffickers.

Efforts to tackle human trafficking are the responsibility of the Serious Organised Crime Agency, which is due to be wound down and become part of the National Crime Agency when it launches in 2013.