Uprooted and unprotected A multi-agency approach to safeguarding children forced into migration through northern France

Footprints illustration The NSPCC’s Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) advises professionals in the UK on child trafficking cases and works with agencies around the world to prevent child trafficking.

This report highlights learning from CTAC’s work with the Refugee Youth Service (RYS), safeguarding children who had lived in the Calais 'Jungle'. RYS refers children to CTAC when it suspects they have moved from France to the UK. CTAC then shares child protection information with relevant UK agencies and tries to establish the children’s whereabouts.

This report is accompanied by a workbook for professionals to use with young people who have been forced into migration and may have stayed in camps in northern France. The resource is now available to social workers to help them better understand the needs of children who’ve been trafficked or are at risk of being trafficked.

The questions in the workbook aim to help practitioners understand a young person’s journey from their home country to the UK, supporting practitioners to identify abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

Author: Charlotte Jamieson
Published: 2018

Between August 2016 and November 2017, 196 children of 12 different nationalities who had been living in the Calais 'Jungle' in France, were referred to CTAC.

The youngest children referred to CTAC were nine years old, the most common age for a referred child was 15.

Children referred to CTAC generally spent several months in Calais before making it to the UK. During this time they had no access to formal education, regular food or safe accommodation.

Among the 196 children referred during the first 15 months of RYS and CTAC’s partnership, 68 were found to be either in local authority care or living with family members.

128 children’s whereabouts remain unconfirmed. Some of these children may be in the UK but unknown to children’s services and, with no wider network to safeguard and protect them, are vulnerable to abuse, exploitation and trafficking.

Welfare concerns for children referred to CTAC include:

  • separation from parents or carers;
  • lack of stability; 
  • sleeping in unsafe environments;
  • not accessing regular education and health care;
  • taking significant risks to get onto lorries;
  • spending time with unsuitable adults;
  • poor mental health; illnesses;
  • physical and sexual abuse;
  • drug and alcohol use; and
  • criminal exploitation.

Conclusions include:

  • continued access to EU agencies such as Europol and Eurojust are key to safeguarding children forced into migration
  • a formal referral system between France and the UK is needed to both better protect children and ensure that receiving local authorities in the UK know as much as possible about children entering their care.
The NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice Centre 4
Overview 5
Introduction 6
Methodology 7
Partnership and referral process 9
Who are the young people? 11
Children's experiences prior to Calais 13
Being in Calais 14
The UK 16
Conclusions and recommendations 17
Glossary 21

“If your life is under threat, anything is possible.”

Please cite as: Jamieson, C. (2018) Uprooted and unprotected: Experiences of children forced into migration through Northern France and a multi-agency approach to safeguarding them. London: NSPCC.

Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) workbook

Understanding the experiences of young people forced to move across borders: resource for professionals to use with young people who have been forced into migration and may have stayed in camps in northern France.

Download the workbook

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