Human 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 form of modern slavery.

Trafficking involves the transportation of people in the UK in order to exploit them by the use of force, violence, deception, intimidation or coercion. This exploitation includes commercial, sexual and bonded labour. Trafficked people have little choice in what happens to them and often suffer abuse due to violence and threats made against them or their families. In effect, they become commodities owned by traffickers, used for profit.

These three elements all form part of trafficking:

  • The act: recruiting, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
  • The means: force, fraud, coercion, deception
  • The purpose: exploitation

Human trafficking is a crime. It does not always involve international transportation. Victims include those transported around the UK into exploitative situations, those born into servitude, or those who escape a trafficker before being exploited. It also includes anyone who once consented to work for a trafficker or slave master or participated in a crime as a direct result of being enslaved.

    1. Sexual exploitation - this includes but is not limited to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images/videos. In 2015, 33% of all reported potential trafficking victims in the UK were victims of sexual exploitation.
    2. Domestic servitude - this involves a victim being forced to work in usually private households, usually performing domestic chores and childcare duties. Their freedom may be restricted and they may work long hours often for little or no pay, often sleeping where they work.
    3. Forced labour - victims are forced to work long hours for little or no pay in poor conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It occurs in various industries including construction, manufacturing, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars). Often victims are housed together in one dwelling. In 2015, 85% of all reported forced labour victims were male.
    4. Criminal exploitation - the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker. The most prevalent subtype of labour exploitation reported is within the block paving and tarmacking industry.
    5. Other forms of exploitation – organ removal; forced begging; forced benefit fraud; forced marriage and illegal adoption.

Below are links to national and international definitions of slavery and trafficking:
Modern Slavery Act
Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015
Palermo Protocal
EU Directive
UNODC