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Human Trafficking

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What is Human Trafficking?

Trafficking is the act of buying or selling usually illegal goods, such as drug trafficking. Human Trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud, coercion, or deception with the aim of exploiting them. It is a crime, it does not always involve international travel. It includes commercial, sexual and bonded labour. It is a form of Modern Slavery.

Trafficked people often feel that they have little choice in what happens to them and frequently experience abuse due to violence and threats made to them or against their families. They become commodities owned by traffickers, used for profit.

It can mean women groomed and forced into sexual exploitation or sex work; men tricked into accepting job offers and trapped in forced labour on building sites, farms or factories; women recruited to work in private homes only to be trapped, exploited and abused behind closed doors with no way out. It doesn’t always involve transportation, it can take place within a single country or within a single community.

Estimates in 2020 suggested there were 13,000 trafficking victims in the UK, though the UN estimates there to be 136,000 people in the UK who are subject to forced labour or have been trafficked.

Child trafficking is the practice of transporting children for the purposes of exploitation. Child trafficking and modern slavery are child abuse (see safeguarding). Child trafficking is defined as recruiting, moving, receiving and harbouring children for the purpose of exploitation. Children are trafficked for child sexual exploitation, criminal activity (including county lines), forced marriage, domestic servitude, forced labour, illegal adoption and unreported private fostering arrangement (for any exploitative purpose).

The UN has defined human trafficking as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of threat, or use of force, coercion or deception… to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation”. Palermo Protocol

  • Modern Slavery Act 2015, section 2 provides the legislation around arranging or facilitating the travel of another person with a view to exploitation. Section 3 of the Act defines the meaning of exploitation.
  • Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants etc) Act 2004 provides the legislation for all non-sexual exploitation prior to 2015.
  • Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009 sets out a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who come to the UK.
  • Trafficking People for Exploitation Regulations 2013 protects those trafficked from criminal exploitations and puts in measures to protect victims.
  • Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 allows a UK national to be prosecuted for committing the crime of trafficking in any country of the world, and criminalises trafficking within the UK for non-sexual exploitation.
  • Sexual exploitation is covered by the Protection of Children’s Act 1978 and Sexual Offences Act 2003.
  • Home Office has published statutory guidance on how to identify and support victims of modern slavery.
  • All Wales Practice: Safeguarding children who may be trafficked is statutory guidance for practitioners in agencies effectively safeguarding children.
  • A Slavery and Trafficking Protection Order (STPO) can only be made if a defendant has been convicted of a trafficking or slavery offence and the court is satisfied that there is a risk they may commit further offences and it is necessary to protect others from harm, a breach is punishable with up to five years imprisonment.
  • Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders (STRO) can be made without a conviction but is deemed to pose a risk of harm and it is necessary to protect others. A breach is also punishable with up to five years imprisonment.

Welsh Government: Introduction to Anti-Slavery Awareness Course; Anti-Slavery First Responder Course; and for those in the Police or CPS Modern Slavery and Organised Crime

Social Care Wales: Safeguarding Awareness

Unseen offers a range of accredited courses for professionals in statutory services

Professional Certificate in Tackling Human Trafficking

Kent Police (YouTube) Modern slavery and human trafficking – it’s closer than you think

National Crime Agency (YouTube) Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Campaign: Elena

Salvation Army UK (YouTube) Slave sale in Chelsea: Anti Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery

Help and Support

For victims, families and concerned people

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a single framework centred on a multi-agency approach to victim identification and referral to appropriate support. Police, Immigration, Local Authorities and some non-government organisations can refer suspected victims to the Single Competent Authority (SCA) for a decision. The SCA is part of the Home Office. Referral to the NRM requires consent for adults, but is not required for those under the age of 18.

Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.

NSPCC Helpline 0808 800 5000 if you think a child is in danger of trafficking.

Live Fear Free Helpline on 0808 80 10 80 or email

BAWSO, Diogel Project supports women and women who have been trafficked into the UK. Providing secure accommodation and outreach in partnership with the Salvation Army. 24hour helpline 0800 731 8147 or email

Barnardo’s run specialise Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship Service (ICTGS) in Wales.