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Trafficked & Exploited Children and Young People

What is child trafficking

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation. This can be moving children from one country to another or moving children within a country.

The UK has ratified two national treaties (Council of Europe 2005 and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2000) to set out an agreed definition of human trafficking.

These define human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of any persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purposes of exploitation. Exploitation can include sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, criminal activity including petty theft and cannabis cultivation, servitude, or the removal of organs.

What makes children vulnerable to being trafficked

The NSPCC lists a number of factors that can leave children vulnerable to traffickers:

  • Being from a small town or village
  • Being a migrant or illegal immigrant
  • Having a low level of education
  • Coming from an ‘at-risk’ family (low income, problems of alcoholism, domestic abuse)
  • Living without parent care or in state care
  • Being homeless

Signs of child trafficking

The NSPCC have identified several signs that a child has been trafficked. These include:

  • Having falsified documentation
  • Being accompanied by an adult who is not the parent who insists on remaining with the child at all times
  • Having a prepared story very similar to stories given by other children
  • Not having any money but having a mobile phone
  • Being unable or reluctant to give details of accommodation or personal details
  • Having no access to their parent or guardians
  • Looking intimidated and behaving in a way that does not correspond with behaviour typical of children their age
  • Not being registered with a school or GP practice
  • Having no freedom of movement and no time for playing
  • Living apart from family and in substandard accommodation
  • Travelling without an adult or with adults who are not relatives or friends of the family
  • Being seen in inappropriate places such as brothels or factories
  • Receiving repeated unexplained or unidentified phone calls
  • Having a history with gaps and unexplained moves or going missing for periods
  • Being required to earn a minimum amount of money every day or pay off an exorbitant debt
  • Performing excessive housework chores and rarely leaving the residence
  • Being permanently deprived of a large part of their earnings by another

The impact of child trafficking

Child trafficking is a form of child abuse that can have long-lasting and devastating effects.

  • Physical abuse: violence
  • Sexual abuse: sexual violence, high risk of sexually transmitted infections, multiple pregnancies
  • Emotional abuse: separated from their families, friends, communities and cultures, and no access to education
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: symptoms of hostility, aggression, difficulty in recalling details or entire episodes, and difficulty concentrating

Who to contact

POLICE: 101 or in an emergency 999

CHILDRENS ACCESS POINT: 01403 229 900

OUT OF HOURS DUTY TEAM: 0330 222 6664

NSPCC 24 HOUR CHILD PROTECTION HELPLINE/CHILD TRAFFICKING ADVICE CENTRE: 0808 800 5000

Supporting documents