The Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings is an international treaty focusing on the protection of victims of trafficking and the safeguarding of their rights.
It also aims to prevent trafficking and to prosecute traffickers.
The UK government ratified the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings on 17 December 2008.
The Convention came into force in the UK on 1 April 2009.
This represents a milestone in the fight against trafficking. It protects victims and improves the UK's enforcement capabilities.
Article 4 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings defines trafficking in human beings as:
"the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons,
by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person
for the purpose of exploitation.
Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs."
Any child who is recruited, transported or transferred for the purposes of exploitation is considered to be a trafficking victim, whether or not they have been forced or deceived.
Even if a child understands that they have been trafficked, they may still believe that they took part of their own free will.
Chapter 3 of the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings bestows upon signatory states a responsibility to:
As part of the UK's implementation of the Council of Europe Convention, the government have created a National Referral Mechanism (NRM).
This is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate care.
For more information please see the NSPCC factsheet on the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).