From the Independent reporter Robert Verkaik unpacks the study's details.
The findings suggest that when trafficked children
try to escape from imprisonment in Britain, their cries for help are ignored or negligently handled by UK agencies. The report, by the Children's Society charity, found that those who managed to escape their captors were often returned to domestic imprisonment, where they were forced to work as prostitutes in brothels or as slaves in British homes. Children who were allowed to leave their guardian's home were usually too frightened to disclose what was happening to them.
One young girl trafficked to Britain was groomed and sexually exploited while in the care of children's services. She did not know that what was happening was illegal, or that it was considered abuse.
The United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) is aware of 325 children from 52 countries who may have been trafficked in 2008. But the Children's Society, which looked closely at 46 cases in the UK, said these figures did not account for young people who feel they have no choice but to keep their ordeals a secret.
More than half of the young people in these initial case studies had attended school while in Britain, but when they asked for support from various agencies, the frontline workers did not know how to help or refer them. The charity said that some who had reported their situation found frontline workers unwilling to help, disbelieving the seriousness of their claims or unaware of where to refer them.
Even when a child is identified as being at risk of exploitation and taken into care, they still face kidnapping by traffickers. In May this year, it was discovered that 77 children had gone missing from a single children's home near Heathrow since March 2006. It is estimated that 1.2 million children worldwide are trafficked each year, in a trade worth £16bn annually.
"Whilst recent media reports have claimed that the problem of trafficking has been overstated, this new research brings into startling perspective the very real problems faced by children separated from their carers and exploited and mistreated by those responsible for them in the UK," said the authors of the report.