Modern Slavery & Child Trafficking

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern Slavery is a crime in which people are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. It can encompass slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.

It is a global issue which transcends age, gender, ethnicities, and borders. Victims of modern slavery may have been brought legally or illegally from overseas, or they may be British citizens living in the United Kingdom.

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.

  • The Modern Slavery Act
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    The act encapsulates both the holding of a person in a position of slavery, servitude forced or compulsory labour and Human Trafficking which involves moving a person for the purpose of exploitation (sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced criminality, organ donation, servitude or slavery).

    Read more The Modern Slavery Act 2015

Modern Slavery / County Lines

County lines is a form of human trafficking which is prevalent in so many countries, especially cities in the UK.

December 2021

Children are the most at risk of being exploited by organised crime groups, with children as young as six years old transporting illegal substances.

Created by It's a Penalty's Student Ambassadors and Sussex Police, this video explains the links between county lines and modern slavery, the risk to children and the trauma that is often overlooked and misunderstood even by survivors.

Risk factors of Modern Slavery

Anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and sexuality, can be at risk of modern slavery, however, traffickers or 'modern slavery perpetrators' often target more vulnerable children as they are easier to manipulate and coerce.

Vulnerability factors include:

  • Limited/sporadic school attendance see educational neglect
  • Missing episodes (especially from care) see Missing From Home & Care
  • Expressing fear or anxiety
  • Signs of psychological trauma (including post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Underage pregnancy
  • Inappropriate sexual behavioursee understanding sexual behaviour
  • Substance misuse
  • Limited social contact/isolation
  • Lack of access to medical care
  • Injuries apparently a result of assault or controlling measures
  • A lack of belongings (a limited/no change of clothes, unsuitable for activity)
  • Unexplained or untreated injuries and bruising
  • Malnourished

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Spotting the Signs of Modern Slavery

Signs can be very similar to other types of exploitation such as children showing signs of neglect and malnourishment, or appearing withdrawn, anxious and frightened, however there are some more specific signs:

  • Unaware of their home address
  • Unsuitable clothes for the weather
  • Reluctance to make eye contact or speak to people
  • They have untreated injuries
  • Underage pregnancy

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What is Child Trafficking?

Child Trafficking is a form of Modern Slavery, exploitation and is abuse.

Children are coerced, deceived or forced into the control of others who seek to profit from their exploitation and suffering. Exploitation takes a number of forms, including sexual exploitation, forced labour, forced criminality, begging, organ harvesting, and domestic servitude and victims may come from all walks of life.

Children are trafficked for:

  • Sexual and/or Criminal Exploitation
  • Forced Marriage
  • Forced Labour (factories, agriculture)
  • Domestic Slavery (cooking, cleaning, childcare)
  • Undertaking crimes, like theft, working on cannabis farms or moving and selling drugs.
  • More about Child Trafficking
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    Trafficked children experience many types of abuse and neglect. Traffickers use physical, sexual and emotional abuse as a form of control. Children and are also likely to be physically and emotionally neglected and may be sexually abused.

    Children who are trafficked for the purpose of exploitation, may not always recognise that what is happening to them is trafficking, or may possibly be too afraid to seek help due to a threat of harm towards them, or in some cases to their friends and family.   Children need intensive support to recover from such experiences and to keep them safe in the future.

Spotting the signs of Child Trafficking

  • Carrying large amounts of cash and using it to pay for travel/ food
  • Going missing from home and/or low attendance at school
  • Appearing anxious, frightened, withdrawn, angry or showing signs of neglect
  • Living in low-standard accommodation, being orphaned or living apart from family
  • Be unsure which country, city or town they are in
  • Traveling alone, including taxis /public transport
  • Can’t / are reluctant to share personal information or where they live
  • Not be registered with a school or GP practice
  • Be seen in inappropriate places such as factories or brothels
  • Carrying weapons
  • Unexplained acquisition of money, clothes or mobile phone
  • Have injuries from workplace accidents
  • Give a prepared story which is very similar to stories given by other children
  • Being in contact with known criminals or traffickers 
  • Rarely leaving their house and having no time to play

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What effect can trafficking have on children?

Trafficking can have both short-and long-term effects and the impact can last a lifetime.

Children who've been trafficked may:

  • Not understand what's happened to them is abuse, especially if they've been groomed
  • Believe they're in a relationship with their abuser and unaware they're being exploited and trafficked
  • Think they played a part in their abuse or have broken the law
  • Feel very guilty or ashamed about the abuse they've suffered
  • Have poor mental health and be suffering from the effects of neglect and abuse
  • Feel distressed and alienated if they've been separated from their families, friends, communities and cultures
  • Have limited social and emotional development
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Next steps to consider
  • What to do if you suspect Modern Slavery and Child Trafficking?
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    Key:
    • CONTACT: West Yorkshire Police
    • CONTACT: LADO
    • CONTACT: IFD
    • Refer: NRM
    • Use: Screening Tool
    • use: Other reporting tools:
    Consider the following:
    • CONTACT
      West Yorkshire Police

      If a child is in immediate danger, call 999.

      For guidance and support on what to do if you suspect CSE you can call 101.


      If you have information that you want to share with the police you can do so by submitting it via the Partnership Intelligence Portal (PIP)
    • CONTACT
      Children Vulnerable to Exploitation (CVE) Screening Tool

      Coming soon
    • CONTACT
      Integrated Front Door (IDF)

      Visit the WSCP website
      worried about a child page for all information relating to the IFD and MASH team
    • Refer
      National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

      Report any incidents of Modern slavery
      here

      Members of the public should call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or 
      report it online.
    • Use
      LADO: Allegations against a professional

      Refer to the WSCP
      LADO one minute guide for more information

    • use
      Other reporting tools:

      Call IVision (formally PACE) on 0113 240 3040
      Text the British Transport Police on 61016
      Call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111
      Call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000
      Call the Modern Slavery Helpline 0800 012 1700 or fill in their 
      online form.

  • What is the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)?
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    The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) was introduced in 2009 as a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK.

    It aims to ensure that victims receive appropriate protection and support.
    Consent is not required when referring a child to the National referral Mechanism (NRM).
    For guidance and support when making a referral, please click here for information by the UK Home Office.

  • Independent Child Trafficking Guardianship (ICTG)
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    The ICTG service offers advice, guidance and support for children (aged under 18) who have been exploited through trafficking and Modern Slavery.

    They also provide support, advice and guidance for professionals working with young people who are victims of trafficking and Modern Slavery.

    To learn more about the ICTG, when a referral should be made and to access their One Minute Guide, click here.

Modern Slavery & Child Trafficking Resources

Modern Slavery Awareness

This short video is aimed at health colleagues but contains important key messages for ALL who work or volunteer with children.

It's estimated that 13,000 men, women and children are trafficked for exploitation in the UK.

Developed by NHS England and the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Modern Slavery Awareness - YouTube

One Minute Guide
  • Modern Slavery
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    To access the One Minute Guide on Modern Slavery, please click here. Read more and download here (coming soon).

    To view the Child Exploitation series of One Minute Guides visit our Child Exploitation Learning and Development page and read more about online, child criminal and financial exploitation.

  • Child Trafficking
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    To access the One Minute Guide on Child Trafficking, please click here. Read more and download here (coming soon).

    To view the Child Exploitation series of One Minute Guides visit our Child Exploitation Learning and Development page and read more about online, child criminal and financial exploitation.


Developing skills and knowledge around Modern Slavery & Child Trafficking
  • Text link image Learning & Development
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    Access the range of Child Exploitation training, development and resources from WSCP, as well as signposting to local and national services on our CE learning & development page.

    THere you will find links to current training offers, one minute guides, briefings, learning from reviews and signposting to local and national services that can help you with developing your skills and knowledge around Child Exploitation.

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