Victims of human trafficking are forced to work in fear for their safety. Victims may suffer physical, sexual and/or emotional abuse including threats of violence or actual harm, which is made worse by poor living and working conditions.
What can you do if you suspect someone has been trafficked?
Call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111, if you suspect that someone may have been trafficked.
Your call will be treated in confidence and your information could help to prevent human trafficking.
What are the signs that you should you look out for?
There are many signs, in many places, that may indicate someone has been trafficked.
In a sauna or massage parlour
- the woman is a foreign national
- she appears to be unhappy and unwilling to perform sexual acts
- she is frightened or in physical pain
- she sees a large number of clients each day/night
- she is able to keep little, or none, of the money she receives from clients
- 'special' services are offered including unprotected sex, often at a low price
- she doesn't smile and is reluctant to cooperate
- food is paid for by another person
- she has little or no time off
- she may only know how to say sex-related words in English
On a farm or in a factory
- the workers are foreign nationals
- they are using unsuitable equipment
- they are wearing unsuitable clothing
- they are living in overcrowded accommodation
- they may seem fearful and are poorly integrated with the wider community
- minibuses pick them up at unusual hours of the day and night
- they have no days off or holiday time
- their passports and legal documents are held by their employer or someone else
Working as a nanny or a domestic servant
- the worker is rarely allowed out of the house, unless the employer or guardian is with them
- they are subject to abuse, insults, threats or violence
- they have no private space or a proper place to sleep for example on the floor or a sofa
- they have a poor diet or is given the family's leftover food to eat
- if the victim is a child, they may have poor attendance at school, no access to education and no time to play
Other more general indicators may be
If you are travelling
- the person does not interact much with the family
- if the victim is a child, they are travelling alone
- they do not seem to have many possessions but do have a mobile phone
- they are not travelling to the UK to meet their parents or guardians
- they are suspicious of adults
- they are very afraid of being deported
- they may show signs of inappropriate or sexualised behaviour towards men
On the high street
- a young, elderly or disabled foreign national who begs in public places or on public transport
- they may show obvious signs at being abused such as bruises, cuts or mutilation
- they seem fearful of adults (especially law enforcers) or their behaviour is jumpy
- one adult is the guardian of a large group of children
- a large group of adult or child beggars are moved daily to different locations but return to the same location every night
- on public transport they move as a group, such as walking up and down the length or a train or bus.
- a teenage girl meets an older male who becomes her boyfriend. Initially he flatters her, buys her gifts such as a mobile phone, and introduces her to alcohol or drugs. He makes her feel incredibly special
- the man controls her more and more. He claims she owes him for drugs and forces her to do sexual favours as a means of payment
- She is taken from her family home and returned after varying lengths of time; her relationship with her family or guardians gradually becomes severed
- pictures or films of her engaging in sex activities are used to make her feel guilty, fearful her family will find out. Her 'boyfriend' uses this to control her, making her sleep with his friends
- he takes her to different flats (even in different towns or cities), getting her to sleep with different men
- she may not know he is taking payment from these men either in money or illegal drugs
For more information visit Blue Blindfold website
What is Human trafficking?
It is estimated that globally, between two and four million people are victims of human trafficking every year.
Human trafficking is the illegal movement of a person into or through a country.
Victims are brought into a country on the promise of a decent wage but are forced to work extremely long hours, for less than the minimum wage, often in unsafe conditions. Some victims are also housed in very poor and unsuitable accommodation. In some cases they have even paid a significant amount of money to travel here, with the promise of a better life.
The trafficker often controls their victims by fear - using violence and/or psychological torture. They may also restrict their movement in some way, threaten them or their family, or convince them they will not receive help, even if they speak to the police or someone else in authority.
The most common reason for trafficking in Northern Ireland is to take advantage of victims in the sex industry.
In recent years, the vice trade in Northern Ireland has moved “off street” into private residences, apartment blocks and hotels, and an increasing number of brothels operating in Northern Ireland have links to organised crime gangs.
Labour exploitation and domestic servants
Less widespread, but equally as harmful, is the trafficking of people to make them work as manual labourers, nannies or as servants in houses. Here are some signs that may indicate labour exploitation;
- victims are often forced to live in cramped and/or overcrowded conditions
- they may be collected very early and/or returned late at night on a regular basis
- they may have inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing, and/or a lack of safety equipment
- there may be a heavy security presence at the premises where they live or work
- victims’ physical appearance may show signs of injury, malnourishment, and their general appearance may be unkempt
- they may be isolated from the local community and/or appear to be under the control or influence of others
Human trafficking is often confused with people smuggling. People smuggling is when the illegal immigrant is actually involved in the arrangements for his or her movement. They have usually paid a significant amount of money for someone to hide and smuggle them into another country.
Help for victims of Human Trafficking
Migrant Help is a telephone helpline that provides support for adult victims of human trafficking in Northern Ireland:
- 077 6666 8781
For additional information or general enquiries Migrant Help can be contacted on:
- 013 0420 3977
Migrant Helpline website
More useful links
Blue blindfold website Organised Crime Task Force (contacts section) Police Service of Northern Ireland (contacts section) Crimestoppers (contacts section)