Human trafficking is when people are brought to (or moved around) a country and forced to work, or do other things, they don't want to do.
Traffickers use violence, threats or false promises of well-paid jobs and a better life, to trick victims into working for them, what's known as modern slavery.
Men, women and children of all ages, and from all backgrounds, can be victims of this crime.
Types of human trafficking
The most common types of trafficking are:
- sex trafficking: working as prostitutes, in pornography, phone sex lines, internet chat rooms, escort agencies
- forced labour: working for low pay, or no pay, in poor conditions with threats of punishment
- servants: working at their employer's home for low pay, or no pay, where they're often abused and can't leave
- forced marriage
- forced crime: begging, pick-pocketing, selling drugs, bag snatching
- organ harvesting: trafficking people to sell their organs for transplant
Young people are tricked into travelling to the UK by thinking they'll go to school or get jobs here.
When they arrive, they find out they've been lied to and are made to work in restaurants, steal or help with chores. They're also not allowed to go to school. Sometimes they're forced to work in the sex industry.
Trafficking is a hidden crime, but there are signs that could mean a person has been trafficked. Find out about the signs on our Modern slavery page.
More information on human trafficking is available on the National Crime Agency website.
Communities have an important role to play in recognising abuse. If you recognise any of the above signs and suspect someone may be a victim of trafficking, tell someone. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.
To report a suspicion or get advice you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you want to remain anonymous, you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Always call 999 if there is a crime in action or immediate threat to life. If you have a hearing or speech impairment, use our textphone service 18000 or text us on 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergencySMS service.
Further advice and support
Modern Slavery Helpline
Information and advice on modern slavery.
The Salvation Army
Immediate and intensive support to ensure victims of trafficking are given the best possible chance of recovery.
Support services for adult victims of human trafficking.
Stop the Traffik
Information and advice about worldwide trafficking, includes a downloadable app.
Advice, advocacy and support services for migrant domestic workers.
Helps women, young men and children who have been freed from human trafficking.
Provides direct, specialist support to trafficked children.
Advice and support for victims and families of trafficked children.