What is trafficking?

“Human Trafficking is a crime against humanity. It involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through the use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them…it is the fastest growing means by which people are enslaved, the fastest growing international crime, and one of the largest sources of income for organised crime.”

The UN Office on Drugs and Crime

Every year millions of people worldwide are deceived, forcibly taken or sold into slavery for exploitation.

Of these people, thousands are trafficked in the UK and across UK borders, including many children.

These children are extremely vulnerable and often subject to forced labour and sexual exploitation.

Why are children trafficked?

  • Sexual exploitation, including prostitution
  • Forced marriages
  • Slavery and forced labour without pay, including domestic work in cannabis farms
  • Criminal activities, pick pocketing and benefit fraud


Thi’s Story

Thi is 14 years old and comes from a poor village in Vietnam. His parents borrowed money to pay for him to come to the UK thinking he would get an education, work and a better life. He arrived alone, but did not claim asylum. He was referred to social services and put in temporary accommodation. Thi went missing 3 days after his arrival and despite the combined work of the police and social workers, he was not found.

Eight months later, Thi was discovered in a Young Offenders institute where he had been detained because he had been found in a cannabis factory, working in poor conditions for no pay. He was released to the care of social services.

He is unable to talk about his experiences for fear of being found by the traffickers.

Grace’s Story

Grace is a 16 year old girl from Mozambique. She applied for a job working as a waitress in Italy and borrowed money for the journey. However, Grace had been tricked, and was trafficked in to the UK to work as a prostitute.

When she did not make enough money her traffickers became angry. Fearing for her life, she managed to escape and a member of the public found her wandering in a church and took her to a police station. She was later referred to social services and is now receiving help and support.

Grace is so traumatised and frightened that she is not able to tell us who brought her to the UK or how she arrived here.

A social service is working to reunite Grace with her family.  

Spot the signs – help us protect children from exploitation

  • Are there signs of physical or emotional abuse or neglect?
  • Does the child or young person claim to owe money to others for travel costs?
  • Does the young person have money or expensive possessions with no explanation?
  • Is the child of young person with an adult who is not their parent?
  • Does the child come from another county or country?
  • Does the child appear scared or cautious of the adult they are with?
  • Does the child appear scared or cautious when talking to you?
  • Do you think the child or young person could be withholding information or telling you a rehearsed story?
  • Is the young person pregnant and not accessing ante-natal care?


If you have any concerns, there are people you can talk to.

  • Health professionals – contact your named or designated nurse or doctor in the first instance for a consultation. If unavailable or advised to, contact your local social services or Kent Police.
  • Kent Families and Social Care – Central Referral Unit. Tel: 08458 247101.
  • Kent Police Public Protection Unit: Child Exploitation Investigation Team. Emergency – call 999, Non-emergency – call 101
  • Medway Children and Adult’s Social Care - Tel: 01634 334466. Out of hours tel: 08457 626777.
  • NSPCC National Trafficking Advice and Information Line - Tel: 0800 1077057

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