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Voluntary return (for lawyers)

If the child requests to return this may be via assisted voluntary return. if they are eligible. If the child is not suitable for this they can still opt to return voluntarily but the child must understand their options.

A risk assessment must be conducted to establish whether it is in the best interest for the child to return.

Safe reception must be established for the child which may require communication with international social services. The child’s social worker will necessarily be involved. In the case of children trafficked by their family or primary carer, it would not be suitable or safe for the child to be returned back into their care. The process of establishing safe reception can take a long time.

Charter flights are not normally appropriate for unaccompanied children unless the charter is for young people only. A social worker or an appropriately trained Home Office escort is to accompany the child during the flight.

All returns must be conducted in compliance with Article 16 of the Trafficking Convention, key among its provisions are:

16 (2) When a Party returns a victim to another State, such return shall be with due regard for the rights, safety and dignity of that person and for the status of any legal proceedings related to the fact that the person is a victim, and shall preferably be voluntary.

and

16(7) Child victims shall not be returned to a State, if there is indication, following a risk and security assessment, that such return would not be in the best interests of the child.

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