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A fictitious scourge

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Tagged: / Posted: 25 April 2009

From the BBC, 24 April:

'Up to 325 children a year are being smuggled into or around the UK to be used for slavery, crime or prostitution, according to research.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) identified 325 potential victims of child trafficking between March 2007 and February 2008.

Researchers from Ceop said 53% of the children whose age could be determined were under 16.'

The rest of the children, we must assume, ranged in age between 35 and 72.

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The press release on which the BBC non-story is based lives here: http://www.ceop.gov.uk/mediacentre/pressreleases/2009/ceop_24042009.asp and the reporter must be commended for at least reading the executive summary, since the press release does not cite the specific percentages mentioned in the story.

The reporter even made the effort to turn around a percentage in the report (that 47% of the potential children whose age could be ascertained were 16 and 17) by emphasising the other 53%, who might more strictly be regarded as children.

The figure of 325 potential children, we learn, is the culmination of CEOP’s ongoing work with police forces, the UK Borders Agency, local authorities, the UK Human Trafficking Centre, the Serious Organised Crime Agency and NGO’s and is an analysis of front line feedback intended to build intelligence and understanding of the extent and manifestations of the crime. That the gender of 3% of the potential children was unknown gives some insight into the methodology at work.

A staggering result, you'll agree.

(In all fairness, the philosophers at CEOP did themselves no favours by misusing the word 'potential' when they meant 'likely', but surely the BBC ought to know better).

Also in the report (page 9)

Added: 26 April 2009

Also in the report (page 9) it states that only 53% were graded as having a 'high' or 'very high' likelihood of having been trafficked, which brings the figure down to 171.

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