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Q971: What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is an element of modern slavery. It is the recruitment, movement or receipt of a person, by deception or coercion, into a situation of exploitation. For example, a person may be told that they can come to the UK to work legally, but then upon arriving in the UK, be forced to work as a domestic servant or labourer, with threats of violence if they refuse.

Although human trafficking often involves an international cross-border element, it is also possible to be a victim of modern slavery within your own country. It is also possible to be a victim even if consent has been given to be moved.

Human trafficking involves the exploitation of people, for example:

  • Sexual exploitation.
  • Forced labour.
  • Domestic servitude.
  • Organ harvesting.
  • Child related crimes such as child sexual exploitation.
  • Forced begging.
  • Organised theft.
  • Forced marriage and illegal adoption.

There are many signs that a person may be a victim of human trafficking, including:

  • Being accompanied by someone who appears controlling
  • Being withdrawn and submissive.
  • Seeming afraid to speak to a person in authority and having an accompanying person speak for them.
  • Giving vague and inconsistent explanations of where they live, their employment or schooling.
  • Having old or serious injuries left untreated and showing signs of general physical neglect.
  • Appearing to be moving location frequently.
  • Struggling to speak English.
  • Having no official means of identification or suspicious looking documents.

In relation to children, additional signs may include:

  • Having an unclear relationship with an accompanying adult.
  • Going missing quickly and repeatedly from school, home and care.
  • Giving inconsistent information about their age.

If you know someone who you believe may be a victim of modern slavery or human trafficking, or you feel you may be a victim yourself, you should report the abuse to your local police force.

You can also contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the Salvation Army Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Helpline on 0300 303 8151 for assistance.

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