Human trafficking

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

Examples of human trafficking and slavery

Adults and children can be trafficked or enslaved and forced to sell their bodies for sex. People are also trafficked or enslaved 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 or slavery are found in different situations.  These are certain signs that show someone has been trafficked or enslaved.  

General signs

People who have been trafficked or enslaved 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 and enslaved victims may be subjected to violence or threats of violence against themselves or others, and they may not have their passport or other documents.


Children who have been trafficked or enslaved 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 or enslaved 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 or violent sex, or that they cannot refuse unprotected or violent sex, may also be an indicator that they have been trafficked or enslaved for sexual exploitation.

Labour exploitation

People who have been trafficked or enslaved 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 'No more traffik' has information on how to spot the signs of trafficking or slavery:

If you suspect someone has been trafficked or enslaved

If you suspect that someone has been trafficked or enslaved:

  • call 999 in an emergency  
  • call 101 about the general situation
  • call 0800 0121 700 for the Modern Slavery Helpline

Education resource pack 

An education resource pack on human trafficking has been produced for teachers of year 10 and Key Stage 4. To find ind the education resource pack, go to:

Help available for victims of human trafficking and slavery

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

More useful links

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