Human trafficking

Human trafficking is a serious crime that can affect anyone, of any age, gender or nationality. It involves the possession of people by improper means, such as force, threat or deception to exploit them. It is the illegal movement of a person into or through a country.

Examples of human trafficking

Adults and children can be trafficked and forced to sell their bodies for sex. People are also trafficked for labour exploitation, for example:

  • to work on a farm or factory
  • to work in a house as a servant, maid or nanny
  • to beg on the street  

Where children have been trafficked and exploited this is an offence, even if no force or threats have been used and the child has given consent.

Signs to look out for

Victims of trafficking can be found in a variety of situations. Below are just some of the indicators that someone may have been trafficked.

General signs

People who have been trafficked may believe that they must work against their will. They might receive little or no payment and be unable to leave their work environment. Trafficked victims may be subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or others, and they may not be in possession of their passport or other documents.


Children who have been trafficked may have no access to their parents or guardians. They may look frightened and behave in a way that is not normal for children of their age. They may have no access to education and might travel in groups with people who are not relatives.

Sexual exploitation

People who have been trafficked for sexual exploitation may move from one brothel to the next, or work in various locations. They might live or travel in a group, sometimes with others who do not speak the same language.

Evidence that someone has had unprotected and/ or violent sex, or that they cannot refuse unprotected and/ or violent sex, may also be an indicator that they have been trafficked for sexual exploitation.

Labour exploitation

People who have been trafficked for labour exploitation may live in groups in the same place where they work and leave those premises infrequently, if at all. They might not be dressed adequately for the work they do, have no labour contract, work excessively long hours, or lack basic training and professional licences. They might also be subjected to insults, abuse, threats or violence.

Spot the signs video

The video below 'No more traffick' has useful information on how to spot the signs of trafficking:

What to do if you suspect someone has been trafficked?

If you suspect that someone has been trafficked, call the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) on 999, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on:

  • phone: 0800 555 111

Education resource pack on human trafficking

An education resource pack on human trafficking has been produced for teachers of year 10 and Key Stage 4. You can find the education resource pack at the following link:

Help available for victims of human trafficking

There may be some people in Northern Ireland who are not aware that they are victims of human trafficking. Learn more about the signs, rights and what help is available. You are entitled to have your human rights respected.


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