What is trafficking?

Trafficking is the transportation of persons within the UK with the purpose of exploiting them by the use of force, violence, deception, intimidation, coercion or abuse of their vulnerability. The forms of exploitation include sexual, bonded labour and servitude. Those who are trafficked have little or no choice in what happens to them and usually suffer abuse from threats of violence against them and/or their family. 

The Crime of Trafficking

​On the basis of the definition given in the Trafficking in Persons Protocol, it is evident that trafficking in persons has three constituent elements:

The Act (What is done)

Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons

The Means (How it is done)

Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person controlling the victim.

The Purpose (Why it is done)

For exploitation, which includes prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs.

Whilst these 3 aspects define trafficking in an adult, with a child only to be 'The Act' and 'The Purpose' have to be present for the crime of trafficking to have occurred.  

Child trafficking is child abuse. Children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. They are often subject to multiple forms of exploitation.

Children are trafficked for:

  • child sexual exploitation

  • benefit fraud

  • forced marriage

  • domestic servitude, such as cleaning, childcare, cooking

  • forced labour in factories or agriculture

  • criminal activity such as pick-pocketing, begging, transporting drugs, working on cannabis farms, selling pirated DVDs, bag theft.


Many children are trafficked into the UK from abroad, but children are also trafficked from one part of the UK to another.

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