Skip to navigation

press releases

Select Topic:

Select Year:

Select Month:

Select Nation:

UK map

Shock at 84% rise in sexually exploited children reporting having been trafficked

Release Date: 13 Jan 2013

The UK’s largest children’s charity is calling on the Department for Education and the Home Office to do more to protect young people from being internally trafficked for sex.

The number of sexually exploited children known to Barnardo’s rose by 22 per cent to 1,452 in the UK last year and 37 per cent during the past three years.

Taking a snapshot of those children worked with during September 2012, the number of young people known by Barnardo’s to be trafficked within the country rose by 84 per cent, from 76 to 140 children year on year. That equates to 1 in 4 in the UK, up from 1 in 6 in 2011, and rising to 1 in 2 in Wales, where the charity has increased its reach.

Barnardo’s chief executive Anne Marie Carrie said:

“We are shocked at the rise in the number of children reporting they have been moved around the country by abusers.

“Domestic trafficking of children for sex is a sophisticated type of exploitation, a sinister form of organised violation through networks of criminals.

“Nobody currently knows the full extent of these crimes because of their hidden nature, but what we do know is that every time we open a new service for victims it quickly becomes fully subscribed.

“If we are to save children from suffering for years at the hands of their abusers, more must be done by the authorities to identify victims of child sexual exploitation who are being internally trafficked and to stop this activity earlier on.”

The warning comes as Barnardo’s Cut them free campaign enters its third year.

The charity surveyed 23 of its specialist services, an annual report it compiles each year. Barnardo’s service data also revealed:

  • numbers of sexually exploited children helped by Barnardo’s rose by 377 per cent in Wales from 22 to 83
  • 302 service users in the UK – 55 per cent of the snapshot of children who were sexually exploited – had been missing at some point
  • five services, in the south west, Midlands, north east, Northern Ireland and Scotland, noted a rise in online grooming and exploitation
  • three services, in the north east, south east and Northern Ireland, noted an increase in the number of younger children they helped, with children as young as seven meeting strangers on the internet.

Barnardo's is calling for:

  • the UK Government and the devolved administrations to protect victims and other children from being trafficked for sex.
  • local multi-agency bodies with responsibility for safeguarding children in the UK to commit to monitoring the risk and the incidence of children being internally trafficked for sexual exploitation and for police to use the full range of law enforcement and disruption tactics to arrest and deter the abusers.
  • the Department for Education and the Home Office to do more to deliver on the National Action Plan’s commitment to tackling child sexual exploitation in England – ensuring that local authorities and police forces monitor the risk and the reality of this horrific abuse.
  • Police and Crime Commissioners in England and Wales to tackle domestic trafficking of children for sexual exploitation, ensuring that the police are fulfilling their responsibilities.


Notes to editors

  • The media release is relevant to the UK. 20 of Barnardo’s services are in England, 2 in Scotland, 1 in Wales and 1 in Northern Ireland.
  • For interviews with Barnardo’s spokespeople, Cut them free campaign images or a copy of the survey please call senior media officer Rebecca Goding on 020 8498 7555.
  • Child sexual exploitation is used to cover a broad spectrum of activity from seemingly ‘consensual’ relationships or informal exchanges of sex for attention, accommodation, gifts or cigarettes through to serious, organised crime.
  • Human trafficking involves the movement of a person from one place to another to exploit them using an element of control (e.g. force, abuse of power or vulnerability). Human trafficking often occurs internationally, but it is possible to be trafficked within your own country. Internal trafficking therefore refers to the movement of people within Britain, usually between/to towns and cities.
  • Internal/domestic trafficking networks are formed either by the same adults being linked to victims who do not know each other, by abusers fostering links between vulnerable children or young people and victims themselves being forced to bring in vulnerable peers.
  • As trafficking can be conducted using hotels, taxi and train providers, cafes and other services, Barnardo’s has produced a ‘spot the signs’ leaflet so staff in the hospitality, leisure, transport and tourism know what to look out for and what to do if they suspect a child is being trafficked.
  • Please note: brothers Anjum Dogar and Akhtar Dogar, along with Kamir Jamil, Zeeshan Ahmed, Mohammed Karrar, Mohammed Hussain, Assad Hussain, Bassam Karrar, Bilal Ahmed, are due to appear at the Old Bailey on Monday, January 14, charged with offences including rape, conspiring to rape a child, arranging child prostitution and trafficking in relation to an alleged child sex trafficking ring in Oxfordshire. Their trial is expected to begin soon.
  • See our report The tangled web: How child sexual exploitation is becoming more complex »

Visit Barnardo's website for more information on the Cut them free campaign

« Back to press releases