BRITISH children as young as 12 are being trafficked between UK towns for sex with paedophiles to make quick cash for criminal gangs.
Unscrupulous men are targeting orphans and other youngsters in children’s homes before hiring them out to the highest bidder – with some never seen again.
With profit in mind, the children in care are also being sold on to become servants, look after cannabis farms or act as drug couriers peddling heroin and cocaine up and down the country, said Barnardo’s.
The children’s charity said in 2015 around 1,000 children in the UK were referred to the government as potential victims of traffickers, but this figure was just the “tip of the iceberg”.
So concerned is the charity, it recently concluded its Independent Child Trafficking Advocates (ICTA) study.
The year-long study, focusing on a group of 158 trafficked children across 23 local authorities in the UK, was carried out to determine whether having an advocate helped safeguard the youngsters from further harm.
The majority of the children were trafficked from town to town for sexual exploitation, with some having gone missing from care after being lured away by the traffickers.
The study also found that some of the children then simply “vanished”, prompting a call for more to be done to find out what had happened to them.