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Outcomes for children and young people affected by modern slavery

An analysis of outcomes for the Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship (ICTG) service in England and Wales

Published: 26th March 2024

This is a summary of the report: Outcomes for children and young people affected by modern slavery: An analysis of ICTG service support in England and Wales based on research conducted by Dr Anna Skeels and Dr Katy Huxley at SPARK, Cardiff University and Hannah Stott, from consultancy Safe to Grow.

Children and young people supported by the Barnardo’s ICTG service have contributed to this project as research participants and through a Young People’s Advisory Group.


The ICTG service, mandated by Section 48 of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act, introduced the role of the Independent Child Trafficking Advocate (ICTA), now ICTG (Independent Child Trafficking Guardian). An ICTA’s role was then to directly support children for whom there were ‘reasonable grounds’ that they could be ‘victims of human trafficking’, to promote the child’s wellbeing and act in the child’s best interests.

In September 2018, a new role of Regional Practice Coordinator (RPC) was introduced to the ICTG service. The RPC was to work indirectly, alongside other professionals, to support children for whom a figure of parental responsibility was in place in the UK.

Since May 2021, two further roles have been introduced to the service and are undergoing targeted piloting: a Regional Practitioner (RP), who works directly with children with a figure of parental responsibility in place in the UK where there is exceptional need, and an Independent Child Trafficking Guardian - Post 18 Worker (ICTG - Post 18), who directly supports young people over the age of 18 and up to the age of 21 or 25 who still need support from the service to transition to adulthood. The ICTG service is present across two thirds of local authorities in England and Wales, providing both direct and indirect support.

The research was designed to enable and centre participation of young people with lived experience of modern slavery, as well as involve 10 of them as ‘young advisers’ on the research and is the first external analysis of the ICTG service to do this.

Key Findings

  1. The ICTG service was found to have supported positive outcomes for all young people participating in the research. All outcomes were important and mattered to them.
  2. The ICTG service is delivering a flexible, multi-layered ‘pyramid of service support’ for children and young people with lived experience of modern slavery, resulting in positive outcomes for their safeguarding, protection, well-being, and recovery.
  3. The research provides important new evidence that the ICTG service is performing in a flexible, adaptive and inclusive way, addressing young people’s different priorities and needs.
  4. The research highlights the importance of ICTG service direct workers as ‘trusted adults’ for children and young people, considered by them as instrumental to their participation, protection, and achievement of positive outcomes. Both direct and indirect worker roles within the ICTG service are identified as critical coordination points, supporting the navigation of complex systems, mobilising services and connecting professionals to drive positive outcomes for children and young people.
  5. ICTG service practitioners can provide nuanced data and valuable insights into the nature of modern slavery affecting children and young people in England and Wales.

Recommendations for the UK government include:

  1. Extend the ICTG service to the whole of England and Wales, based on the evidence of how it supports the attainment of positive outcomes for children and young people affected by modern slavery, formally commence Section 48 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and draft and adopt the regulations that sit beneath this.
  2. Include meaningful children’s participation in any commissioned evaluation or research on the ICTG service where safe and appropriate to do so, including in defining the outcomes that matter to them.
  3. Maintain and encourage a dynamic, responsive and needs-led ICTG service. This will allow the service to continue to respond to the dynamic landscape and policy context of child modern slavery in England and Wales
  4. Draw routinely on the intelligence of ICTG service practitioners coordinated through established intelligence mechanisms and routes, for example the regional anti-slavery partnerships
  5. Investigate secure data sharing and data linkage to measure post-service outcomes within a Trusted Research Environment and its legal feasibility in relation to data protection regulations, privacy notices and any other governance around data sharing.