§ Hilary Benn
The Children and Young People's Unit has lead responsibility for monitoring the UK's implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Ministers for Children from EU Member States meet yearly for the EU Permanent Intergovernmental Group "Europe de L'Enfance" and the last meeting took place on the 11 October 2002. These meetings include discussions on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child as well as other child rights issues, including progress made on combating the commercial sexual exploitation of children, the EU Social Inclusion Action Plans, and the progress made towards setting up an EU child research observatory.
§ Hilary Benn
Under current legislation the courts do not have the power to stop a sex offender subject to the notification requirements of the Sex Offenders Act 1997 from travelling abroad, although those sex offenders who have been released from custody on licence are subject to standard conditions that they must not leave the country without the permission of the supervising officer and this is only granted in exceptional compassionate circumstances.
In a ministerial statement of 5 March I announced that we would be introducing a new foreign travel order that will enable courts to prohibit those convicted of a sexual offence against a child from travelling to specified countries in certain circumstances. The foreign travel orders are being introduced as a Government Amendment to the Sexual Offences Bill currently before Parliament.
The new order will be a civil preventative order made following an application from a chief officer of police. It would apply to those convicted of a sexual offence against a child under 16 either in the United Kingdom or abroad. The order would be available where the court was satisfied that it was necessary to protect children overseas from serious sexual harm by the offender. The orders would last for up to six months renewable on further application from the police. A failure to comply with the order would be a criminal offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment.
Information relating to Scotland is a matter for Ministers in the Scottish Parliament. Information relating to Northern Ireland is a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
§ Hilary Benn
Provisions exist within the immigration rules to refuse admission to, among others, those who have been convicted of a serious criminal offence or those whose presence in the United Kingdom would not be considered conducive to the public good. We would, where appropriate, use these provisions to deny entry to the United Kingdom to those individuals identified as having been convicted of, or having been involved in, committing serious sexual offences.
Anyone identified as being of interest to the Immigration Service for such reasons will have their details circulated to all ports and offices likely to encounter them, including visa offices abroad. A person whose conduct or convictions merit it can therefore either be refused a visa or entry clearance by an entry clearance officer abroad or refused leave to enter by an immigration officer on arrival in the United Kingdom.
We are proposing, as part of the Sexual Offences Bill, a new notification order that would enable the courts to make those who have been convicted of sex offences abroad subject to the sex offenders register if they come to the United Kingdom. The order would make the offender subject to the same notification requirements as an offender convicted of an equivalent offence in the United Kingdom, and failure to comply with the order would be a criminal offence punishable by up to five years imprisonment. The order would apply to UK citizens and foreign nationals.
§ Hilary Benn
Joint work is underway between agencies at principal entry points to identify children at risk. A Child Protection Pilot Project was launched on 10 March 2003 at Heathrow. This is a joint operation between the Metropolitan police and the immigration service involving one child protection officer working closely with immigration officers. The pilot will be rolled out nationally if it proves successful.
In addition to this, intake teams have been piloted at Dover as joint initiatives between immigration service and social services. These will be extended to other United Kingdom ports, and Croydon and Solihull Asylum Screening Units.
Kent Police have also seconded one child protection trained officer (female) to the Joint IS/Police Debriefing Team based in Dover. It is hoped that this will shortly be increased to two permanent officers.
§ Beverley Hughes
Training provided to police and immigration officers is through the practical sharing of skills and experience across agencies.
There is, for example, work underway involving key agencies at principal entry points to identify children at risk, including pilot projects involving the immigration service, police and social services at Heathrow and Dover.744W
Furthermore the Home Office has recently published the 'trafficking toolkit' providing guidance for immigration and police officers on how to recognise a victim of trafficking and what to do if such a victim is encountered. In addition all United Kingdom immigration officers at ports of entry have been issued with a profile of potential child trafficking victims. In the event of specific intelligence coming to light about the potential arrival of trafficked children all UK immigration service offices are quickly notified.
Two immigration officers on attachment to the National Crime Squad Immigration Crime Team (ICT) have attended a week-long multi-agency course on trafficking held by the Child and Women Abuse Studies Unit of the London Metropolitan University. They have cascaded the training to ICT colleagues.
A vice team consisting of specifically selected immigration officers has also been established in London. The team is fully aware of the procedures with regard to the identification of trafficked children.
It is an offence under Section 25 of the Immigration Act 1971, as amended by Section 143 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002 to assist in unlawful immigration to the United Kingdom, and Section 145 of the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum (NIA) Act 2002 has also made it an offence to traffic in prostitution. Anyone convicted of either offence is liable to imprisonment for up to 14 years.
There is however no current evidence to indicate that trafficking in children is a large-scale problem in the United Kingdom.
§ Mr. James Wray
To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department what proposals he has to ensure child victims of trafficking are protected from and do not return to or are not kidnapped by their trafficker or abuser; what specialist safe accommodation and supervision is available in such circumstances; and if he will make a statement. 
§ Beverley Hughes
Child victims of trafficking are referred to social services to receive assistance and support based on their particular needs. They may arrive in this country as unaccompanied minors seeking asylum, or accompanied by an adult. In the latter case, if anyone who comes into contact with the child is concerned that the child is the victim of abuse or neglect, they should refer the child to the relevant local authority's social services department. Unaccompanied minors seeking asylum will also be referred to social services. Social services have a duty under the Children Act 1989 to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who are in need by providing a range and level of services appropriate to those children's needs or, where appropriate, by arranging for the provision of services from other agencies. This care will be determined by a needs assessment according to the Framework for the Assessment of Children in Need and their Families. Child victims of trafficking are likely to be in need of welfare services and—in many cases—protection under the Children Act 1989.
Where there is a risk to the life of a child or a likelihood of serious harm, an agency with statutory child protection powers, for example the police or councils with social services responsibilities, should act quickly to secure the immediate initial safety of the child. In some cases, it may 745W be necessary to ensure that the child remains in, or is removed to, a safe place. Under s.20 of the Children Act 1989, a local authority may provide accommodation for any child within their area if they consider that to do so would safeguard or promote the child's welfare. This may involve placing the child in a foster placement or it may place the child in a children's home.
There are only very limited circumstances in which it is an option to hold a young person in secure accommodation. The Children Act 1989 permits that children may only be held in secure conditions if they satisfy certain specific grounds such as a likelihood of absconding together with a likelihood that injury would be caused to the young person themselves or others. This requires the approval of the courts.
§ Beverley Hughes
The immigration arrangements for child victims of trafficking will depend on the individual circumstances of the case. Unaccompanied asylum seeking children who apply for asylum are referred to the Refugee Council's Panel of Advisers, a non-statutory body which acts as adviser to the child in his or her dealings with the Home Office and other agencies for the duration of the asylum claim. No unaccompanied child will be removed from the United Kingdom unless we are satisfied that adequate reception and care arrangements are in place in the country to which he or she is to be removed.
We expect that the provision of assistance and support to child victims of trafficking will be secured by local statutory services in response to identified needs. Child victims of trafficking are likely to be in need of welfare services and-in many cases—protection under the Children Act 1989. Social Services have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of these children following an assessment of their circumstances.