Child trafficking Facts and statistics

We don’t know exactly how many children have been trafficked into or within the UK. Trafficking is a hidden crime and recorded statistics are almost certainly an under-estimate.

There are figures on charges, prosecutions and convictions for trafficking offences in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. However these are very low and don’t specify if the victims were adults or children.

These figures don’t include prosecutions for crime related to trafficking such as assisting unlawful immigration, false imprisonment, and causing, inciting or controlling prostitution for gain. Nor do they include international investigations where the perpetrators were prosecuted in another country.

2 in 5 potential victims of modern slavery referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in 2017 were children

Explanation: In 2017 the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received a total of 5,145 referrals of potential victims of modern slavery. 2,118 (41%) were children under the age of 18.

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation and is a form of modern slavery.

Figures used are from NRM data. NRM is an identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for all the different agencies involved in a modern slavery case (for example, the police, UK Visa and Immigration, local authorities and NGOs) to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

These figures are likely to be under-estimates due to the difficulties in recognising and understanding that individuals have been victims of modern slavery. It is also not mandatory for a professional to make a referral to the NRM.

See also Indicator 19 in How safe are our children? 2018.

Find out more about the National Referral Mechanism.

People

Over 2100 children were identified as potential victims of trafficking last year

Explanation: In 2017 the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received a total of 5,145 referrals of potential victims of trafficking. 2,118 (41%) were children under the age of 18.

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation and is a form of modern slavery.

Figures used are from NRM data. NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for all the different agencies involved in a modern slavery case (for example, the police, UK Visa and Immigration, local authorities and NGOs) to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

These figures are likely to be under-estimates due to the difficulties in recognising and understanding that individuals have been victims of trafficking. It is also not mandatory for a professional to make a referral to the NRM.

See also Indicator 19 in How safe are our children? 2018.

Find out more about the National Referral Mechanism.

View the trend graph for Number of potential victims of child trafficking referred to NRM (PNG)

The most common countries for children to be trafficked from are UK, Albania, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Eritrea

 

Explanation: In 2017 the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received a total of 5,145 referrals of potential victims of trafficking. 2,118 (41%) were children under the age of 18. The most prevalent countries of origin of child potential victims of trafficking were UK (32% of all children believed to have been trafficked), Vietnam (17%), Albania (10%), Sudan (7%) and Eritrea (6%).

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation and is a form of modern slavery.

Figures used are from NRM data. NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for all the different agencies involved in a modern slavery case (for example, the police, UK Visa and Immigration, local authorities and NGOs) to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

These figures are likely to be under-estimates due to the difficulties in recognising and understanding that individuals have been victims of trafficking. It is also not mandatory for a professional to make a referral to the NRM.

See also Indicator 19 in How safe are our children? 2018.

Find out more about the National Referral Mechanism.

illustration of umbrella

The most common reasons for children to be trafficked are labour exploitation and sexual exploitation

Explanation: In 2017 the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received a total of 5,145 referrals of potential victims of trafficking. 2,118 (41%) were children under the age of 18. The most prevalent exploitation types for children believed to have been trafficked were labour exploitation (1,026, 48% of all children believed to have been trafficked) and sexual exploitation (559, 26%). The exploitation type of 414 (20%) of children believed to have been trafficked was recorded as unknown.

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation and is a form of modern slavery.

Figures used are from NRM data. NRM is a victim identification and support process that is designed to make it easier for all the different agencies involved in a modern slavery case (for example, the police, UK Visa and Immigration, local authorities and NGOs) to cooperate, share information about potential victims and facilitate their access to advice, accommodation and support.

These figures are likely to be under-estimates due to the difficulties in recognising and understanding that individuals have been victims of trafficking. It is also not mandatory for a professional to make a referral to the NRM.

See also Indicator 19 in How safe are our children? 2018.

Find out more about the National Referral Mechanism.

People

We've dealt with over 1,900 cases of child trafficking since 2007

Explanation: Between November 2007 and October 2017 the NSPCC’s Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) dealt with over 1,900 cases of child trafficking. 

CTAC is a specialist service providing information and advice to any professional working with children or young people who may have been trafficked into the UK. 

Find out more about our Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC).

See also Indicator 19 in How safe are our children?

View the trend graph for Number of children referred to CTAC (PNG).

More information and advice

Research and resources

Read our service evaluations, research reports, briefings and leaflets about child trafficking and modern slavery.

See our research and resources

Child Trafficking Advice Centre

If you work with children or young people who may have been trafficked into the UK, contact our specialist service for information and advice.

Call us or email help@nspcc.org.uk for more information.

0808 800 5000

Find out more about CTAC

Work or volunteer with children and families?

Visit NSPCC Learning for information, resources and training to help you safeguard and protect children and young people across the UK.

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