Signs of trafficking

Human trafficking is a serious crime that involves the exploitation of individuals through force, fraud, or coercion for various purposes, including forced labour, sexual exploitation, or involuntary servitude. While it is important to remember that each situation is unique and signs may vary, here are some common indicators or signs that may suggest human trafficking:

  • Physical signs of abuse: Victims may show signs of physical abuse, such as unexplained bruises, injuries, or other signs of mistreatment. They may appear malnourished, fatigued, or exhibit poor hygiene.

  • Restricted freedom of movement: Trafficked individuals may have limited freedom to move or interact with others. They may always be accompanied by someone who appears to be controlling their actions or be constantly monitored.

  • Isolation and lack of identification: Victims may be isolated from the community, not knowing their location or having limited contact with their family or friends. They may not possess personal identification documents, such as a passport or identification card.

  • Inability to speak freely: Trafficked individuals may be unable to speak for themselves or seem hesitant to communicate with others. They may have a limited understanding of the local language or exhibit signs of fear, anxiety, or depression.

  • Inconsistent stories or scripted responses: Victims might provide inconsistent information about their whereabouts, living conditions, or work situation. Their responses may seem rehearsed or memorised, indicating that someone is controlling their narrative.

  • Debt bondage or exploitation: Traffickers often exploit victims by placing them in debt bondage. Victims may be forced to work long hours under harsh conditions with little or no pay. They may be trapped in a cycle of debt, making it nearly impossible for them to escape.

  • Sudden changes in behaviour or appearance: Trafficked individuals may display signs of fear, anxiety, depression, or emotional distress. They might exhibit a dramatic change in their physical appearance, such as weight loss, unkempt appearance, or signs of substance abuse.

  • Controlled communication: Victims may be closely monitored or controlled when communicating with others. They may be unable to speak for themselves, or their communication might be restricted or scripted by the traffickers.

  • Loss of personal possessions and identification: Traffickers often confiscate or control the personal belongings and identification documents of their victims to maintain control over them.

It is crucial to note that these signs alone may not confirm human trafficking, but they can raise suspicions. If you suspect a child is a victim of human trafficking and you are based in one of our local authority areas, please submit a referral form. If you are outside one of our local authority areas we recommend visiting the Modern Slavery Helpline