Child Trafficking

Trafficking of children and/or young people involves recruiting, transporting and or harbouring children and young people by threat or using force, threat, deception, control or payment for the purposes of exploitation.

Exploitation can include, the exploitation or the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs or drug transportation.

Children and young people are usually recruited by coercive or subversive means, taken on dangerous journeys with false papers and ID and, at their destination, they are kept in a controlled environment by means of threats or violence. Some children may be escorted by a person posing as a relative. Most children are trafficked for financial gain such as domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, benefit fraud, sweatshop work in catering or agriculture, illegal adoption and drugs trade.


The child at the point of entry:

  • Entered illegally without passport or ID papers
  • Has false papers, goods and money not accounted for
  • Has no adult with them or to meet them
  • Is with an adult who refuses to leave them alone
  • Has no money but a working mobile phone
  • Is reluctant to give personal details

Once in the UK the child:

  • Receives unexplained calls
  • Has money from an unknown source
  • Shows signs of sexual or physical abuse
  • Has not been enrolled in a school or with a GP
  • Seems to do work in various locations

The child’s ‘sponsor’:

  • Has previously made multiple visa applications for other children or acted as guarantor; or
  • Is known to have acted as guarantor for others who have not returned to their countries of origin at the expiry of the visas


Identification of trafficked children may be difficult, as they might not show obvious signs of distress or abuse. Some children are unaware that they have been trafficked; while others may actively participate in hiding that they have been trafficked due to fear of their own safety or the safety of loved ones. Even when a child understands what has happened, they may still appear to submit willingly to what they believe to be the will of their parents or accompanying adults. It is important that these children are protected too.

Help and Advice

If you are concerned that a child may be at risk of exploitation:

  • In an emergency contact the Police on 999
  • Or contact Children’s and Families Services on (01624) 686179 

The Multi-agency Safeguarding Procedures for responding to children being Trafficked can be found by following this link.