Child trafficking is where children are recruited/groomed and moved or transported and then exploited. Many children are trafficked into the UK from abroad, but children can also be trafficked from one part of the UK to another and even locally within the same town (for example to a hotel).
Internal/domestic trafficking is the movement of people within the UK for exploitation. Trafficking networks are often formed, sometimes with victims themselves being forced to bring in vulnerable peers. However traffickers can also work alone and in an unplanned/opportunist manner.
Traffickers use grooming techniques to gain the trust of a child. Many children and young people don’t understand that they have been groomed or that what has happened is abuse.
Exploitation can take various forms including:
- Sexual abuse, including production of abusive images and videos
- Forced prostitution
- Forced labour and domestic servitude where victims are forced to work in private households performing domestic duties or childcare or various industries such as factories, construction or even nail bars or beauty salons, for long hours with little or no pay and restricted freedom, sometimes under threats of violence towards them or their families.
- Criminal exploitation where victims are forced into crime such as drug production or smuggling or shop-lifting, all for someone else’s financial gain.
Child trafficking only requires evidence of movement and exploitation. It may often involve taxis, public transport such as buses and trains, cafes and hotels. All people working in these areas should be aware of how to spot the signs of children being exploited and what they can do about it.
Do you know where you’re going and why?
Young people must think carefully about their safety before agreeing to travel anywhere with anyone – even if it is just to the local park – or accepting an invitation into to someone’s car, room, house or party. If someone offers you a lift or to pay your fare, think carefully about why they are doing it and what they may potentially want from you in return.
“It only involves people being brought thousands of miles into the UK”
There is no minimum or maximum distance for the transportation or transfer of those who are being exploited. It can be local, national or international.
“People have to be smuggled in lorries to be trafficked”
Any form of transport can be used, such as car, train, tram, bus, plane or even bicycle
“It only happens to people from other countries”
Anyone can be trafficked and exploited, whether adult or child, UK Citizen or not.
“Traffickers are all members of organised criminal gangs”
Traffickers can also work alone and be opportunistic without any prior planning
“You can only traffic people in order to force them into working”
- The NSPCC and Barnardo’s offer more information on child trafficking.
- Read more about the legislation, policy and practice for child trafficking