Fifteen children in Norfolk suspected victims of human trafficking
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Fifteen children have been identified as being potential victims of the 'hidden crime' of human trafficking in Norfolk over the past two years, new statistics have revealed.
Child trafficking is when children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold - with the youngsters abused and neglected.
They can be trafficked for sexual exploitation, forced marriage, forced labour, benefit fraud or for criminal activity such as begging, burglary pickpocketing or running drugs.
Children can be trafficked by individuals or groups, and, in some cases, large criminal networks.
And a Freedom Of Information request to Norfolk County Council has revealed how eight children were identified as potential victims in 2018.
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That compared to seven who were identified as potential victims during the previous year.
All eight of the children identified last year were non-UK nationals.
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Two of them are in foster care and one is in a secure placement.
Five of them were not looked after children, so have not been placed in care.
A Norfolk County Council spokesman said: 'We work closely with the police and other partners to ensure that children who are potential victims of human trafficking are assessed promptly and the most appropriate action taken.
'In some cases this will require the need for the council to provide care for the child or young person - in others, it may be that family members are identified as a safe option.'
The council says it follows the safeguards and protections outlined in governmental statutory guidance in working with children who are trafficked.
A Norfolk police spokesman said: 'Norfolk police work closely with partners, external organisations and the public to identify and support victims of human trafficking.
'This is a crime which is often hidden from view. therefore we have been proactive in providing training to officers, staff and partner agencies so they can recognise the signs and report it.'
People can report child trafficking by calling 101, or, if someone is in immediate danger, by calling 999.
People can also contact the Modern Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.