Child trafficking and modern slavery

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is a serious and often hidden crime in which people are exploited for criminal gain. The impact can be devastating for victims.

It comprises slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour, and human trafficking.

The common factors are that a victim is, or is intended to be, used or exploited for someone else's (usually financial) gain, without respect for their human rights. The perpetrators seeking to take advantage of them could be private individuals, running small businesses or part of a wider organised crime network.

Child victims and vulnerable adults are not able to give informed consent and therefore exploitation even without any element of coercion could constitute modern slavery.

Report Modern Slavery

First responders (who work for designated organisations and help support potential victims of modern slavery) in the UK can use this service to:

  • refer potential victims of any age to the National Referral Mechanism
  • help potential victims receive support and medical care
  • notify the Home Office of potential victims (Duty to Notify)

Report Modern Slavery

What is child trafficking?

Child trafficking is a form of modern slavery. It is where children and young people are tricked, forced and/or persuaded to leave their homes and are moved/transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. Children can be trafficked for:

  • sexual exploitation
  • benefit fraud
  • forced marriage
  • domestic slavery i.e. cleaning, cooking and childcare
  • forced labour in factories or agriculture
  • committing crimes, like begging, theft, working on cannabis farms or moving drugs.

Types of Trafficking

Traffickers often groom children, families and communities to gain their trust. They may also threaten families with violence or threats. Traffickers often promise children and families that they'll have a better future elsewhere.

Trafficking is also an economic crime. Traffickers may ask families for money for providing documents or transport and they'll make a profit from money a child 'earns' through exploitation, forced labor or crime. They will often be told this money is to pay off a debt they or their family owe to the traffickers.

Traffickers may:

  • work alone or in small groups, recruiting a small number of children, often from areas they know and live in
  • be medium-sized groups who recruit, move and exploit children and young people on a small scale
  • be large criminals networks that operate internationally with high-level corruption, money laundering and a large number of victims.