Child trafficking Legislation, policy and guidance

Child trafficking and modern slavery are complex global crimes requiring international and local action to combat them. The hidden nature of child trafficking and modern slavery makes it difficult to identify victims, grasp the scale of the problem and to develop effective responses.

Long term prevention requires:

  • addressing global socio-economic inequality
  • improving public and professional understanding and awareness of trafficking and modern slavery
  • making trafficking and modern slavery an unprofitable business
  • reducing the demand for trafficked and enslaved children.

Child trafficking and modern slavery are child abuse and require a child protection response. For information about child protection legislation and guidance read about child protection in the UK.

Child trafficking and modern slavery are also a crime and an abuse of human rights. Below is a selection of key pieces of legislation, policy and guidance from each of the 4 UK nations and internationally which deal directly with child trafficking and modern slavery.

Official definition

Child trafficking

"1.4 Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol To Prevent, Suppress And Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women And Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime to the UN Convention (2000) (ratified by the UK on 6 February 2006) defines trafficking as:

a. "Trafficking of persons" shall mean 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;
b. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
c. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
d. "Child" shall mean any person under eighteen years of age."

(HM Government, 2011)

Download Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked (PDF)

"Modern slavery is a complex crime that takes a number of different forms. It encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Victims may be sexually exploited, forced to work for little or no pay or forced to commit criminal activities against their will. Victims are often pressured into debt bondage and are likely to be fearful of those who exploit them, who will often threaten and abuse victims and their families. All of these factors make it very difficult for victims to escape."

(HM Government, 2014)

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

"The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child, whether by force or not, by a third person or group, for the purpose of different types of exploitation."

(Department of Health et al, 2011)

Download Working arrangements for the welfare and safeguarding of child victims of human trafficking (PDF)

"Modern slavery is a complex crime that takes a number of different forms. It encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Victims may be sexually exploited, forced to work for little or no pay or forced to commit criminal activities against their will. Victims are often pressured into debt bondage and are likely to be fearful of those who exploit them, who will often threaten and abuse victims and their families. All of these factors make it very difficult for victims to escape."

(HM Government, 2014)

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Child trafficking

1.4 Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol To Prevent, Suppress And Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women And Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime to the UN Convention (2000) (ratified by the UK on 6 February 2006) defines trafficking as:

a. "Trafficking of persons" shall mean 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;
b. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
c. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
d. "Child" shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.

(Scottish Government, 2013)

Download Inter-agency guidance for child trafficking (PDF)

"Modern slavery is a complex crime that takes a number of different forms. It encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Victims may be sexually exploited, forced to work for little or no pay or forced to commit criminal activities against their will. Victims are often pressured into debt bondage and are likely to be fearful of those who exploit them, who will often threaten and abuse victims and their families. All of these factors make it very difficult for victims to escape."

(HM Government, 2014)

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Child trafficking

1.4 Article 3 of the Palermo Protocol To Prevent, Suppress And Punish Trafficking In Persons, Especially Women And Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime to the UN Convention (2000) (ratified by the UK on 6 February 2006) defines trafficking as:

a. "Trafficking of persons" shall mean 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;
b. The consent of a victim of trafficking in persons to the intended exploitation set forth in sub-paragraph (a) of this article shall be irrelevant where any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) have been used;
c. The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purpose of exploitation shall be considered "trafficking in persons" even if this does not involve any of the means set forth in subparagraph (a) of this article;
d. "Child" shall mean any person under eighteen years of age.

(All Wales Child Protection Review Group, 2011)

Download All Wales practice guidance for safeguarding children who may have been trafficked (PDF)

"Modern slavery is a complex crime that takes a number of different forms. It encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking. Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment. Victims may be sexually exploited, forced to work for little or no pay or forced to commit criminal activities against their will. Victims are often pressured into debt bondage and are likely to be fearful of those who exploit them, who will often threaten and abuse victims and their families. All of these factors make it very difficult for victims to escape."

(HM Government, 2014)

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Legislation

Children Act 1989

Provides the legislative framework for child protection in England. Key principles established by the act include:

  • the paramount nature of the child's welfare
  • the expectations and requirements around duties of care to children.

View the Children Act 1989

Children Act 2004

Strengthens the 1989 Act. Encourages partnerships between agencies and creates more accountability.

View the Children Act 2004

Modern Slavery Act 2015

Received Royal Assent in March 2015. The Act consolidates current offences relating to trafficking and slavery.

Part 1 consolidates and clarifies the existing offences of slavery and human trafficking whilst increasing the maximum penalty for such offences. Any person found guilty of offences of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour or offences of human trafficking is liable to life imprisonment.

Part 2 provides for two new civil preventative orders, the Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order and the Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order. A chief officer of police, immigration officers or the National Crime Agency can make a request to prevent foreign travel, protect potential victims and prevent further offences.

Part 3 provides for new maritime enforcement powers.

Part 4 establishes the office of the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner and sets out the functions of the Commissioner to encourage good practice in investigation and victim care.

Part 5 introduces a number of measures focussed on supporting and protecting victims, including a statutory defence for slavery or trafficking victims and special measures for witnesses in criminal proceedings. Measures include: independent child trafficking advocates; non-prosecution of victims compelled to commit crimes; and presumption that a victim is under 18 until appropriate age assessments have been carried out.

Part 6 requires certain businesses to disclose the activities they are undertaking to eliminate slavery and trafficking from their supply chains and their own business.

Part 7 requires the Secretary of State to publish a paper on the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

View the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Section 55 sets out a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who come to the UK.

View the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Sets out rules for immigrants to the United Kingdom.

View the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Immigration Act 2014

Makes provisions including removal of people who are unlawfully in the UK and restriction on removal of children and their parents (Part 1) and access to services and facilities by reference to immigration status (Part 3).

View the Immigration Act 2014

Immigration Act 2016

The Act's provisions include sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers.

View the Immigration Act 2016

The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1989

Provides the legislative framework for Northern Ireland's child protection system. It sets out duties and powers public authorities have to support children and intervene if there are concerns about a child.

View The Children (Northern Ireland) Order 1989

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Act 2015

Section 21 gives trafficked children the right to an independent legal guardian up to the age of 21. The provision came into operation in November 2015, making Northern Ireland the first country in the UK to introduce such a measure.

View the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Further Provisions and Support for Victims) Act 2015

Modern Slavery Act 2015 (England and Wales)

Some aspects of the act apply in Northern Ireland:

  • Part 3: Maritime enforcement
  • Part 4: The Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner.

View the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Section 55 sets out a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who come to the UK.

View the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Sets out rules for immigrants to the United Kingdom.

View the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Immigration Act 2014

Makes provisions including removal of people who are unlawfully in the UK and restriction on removal of children and their parents (Part 1) and access to services and facilities by reference to immigration status (Part 3).

View the Immigration Act 2014

Immigration Act 2016

The Act's provisions include sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers.

View the Immigration Act 2016

Children (Scotland) Act 1995

The Act provides the legislative framework for Scotland’s child protection system and sets out the duties and powers public authorities have to support children and intervene if there are concerns about a child.

View the Children (Scotland) Act 1995

Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Aims to put children and young people at the heart of planning and services to make sure their rights are respected across the public sector.

View the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act 2014

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015

Gives police and courts new powers to confiscate and seize property used for human trafficking. Includes provision for a possible sentence of life imprisonment for those convicted of human trafficking or slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour.

View the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015

Modern Slavery Act 2015 (England and Wales)

Some aspects of the act apply in Scotland:

  • Part 3: Maritime enforcement
  • Part 4: The Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner.

View the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Section 55 sets out a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who come to the UK.

View the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Sets out rules for immigrants to the United Kingdom.

View the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Children Act 1989

Provides the legislative framework for child protection in Wales. Note that part 6 of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 replaces the provisions of part 3 of the Children Act 1989 in their application to Wales.

View the Children Act 1989

Children Act 2004

Strengthens the 1989 Act. Encourages partnerships between agencies and creates more accountability. Part three of the Children Act 2004 applies solely to Wales.

View the Children Act 2004

Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Provides Wales with its own framework for social services. Provisions include strengthening powers for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and a National Outcomes Framework setting out what children and families can expect from social services.

View the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014

Modern Slavery Act 2015

Received Royal Assent in March 2015. The Act consolidates current offences relating to trafficking and slavery.

Part 1 consolidates and clarifies the existing offences of slavery and human trafficking whilst increasing the maximum penalty for such offences. Any person found guilty of offences of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour or offences of human trafficking is liable to life imprisonment.

Part 2 provides for two new civil preventative orders, the Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Order and the Slavery and Trafficking Risk Order. A chief officer of police, immigration officers or the National Crime Agency can make a request to prevent foreign travel, protect potential victims and prevent further offences.

Part 3 provides for new maritime enforcement powers.

Part 4 establishes the office of the Independent Anti-slavery Commissioner and sets out the functions of the Commissioner to encourage good practice in investigation and victim care.

Part 5 introduces a number of measures focussed on supporting and protecting victims, including a statutory defence for slavery or trafficking victims and special measures for witnesses in criminal proceedings. Measures include: independent child trafficking advocates; non-prosecution of victims compelled to commit crimes; and presumption that a victim is under 18 until appropriate age assessments have been carried out.

Part 6 requires certain businesses to disclose the activities they are undertaking to eliminate slavery and trafficking from their supply chains and their own business.

Part 7 requires the Secretary of State to publish a paper on the role of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

View the Modern Slavery Act 2015

Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Section 55 sets out a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children who come to the UK.

View the Borders, Citizenship and Immigration Act 2009

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Sets out rules for immigrants to the United Kingdom.

View the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of claimants, etc.) Act 2004

Immigration Act 2014

Makes provisions including removal of people who are unlawfully in the UK and restriction on removal of children and their parents (Part 1) and access to services and facilities by reference to immigration status (Part 3).

View the Immigration Act 2014

Immigration Act 2016

The Act's provisions include sanctions on illegal workers and rogue employers.

View the Immigration Act 2016

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC)

(UNICEF, 1989)

This human rights treaty sets out children’s civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights. The UK signed the convention in 1990 and ratified it in 1991.

Download The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) (PDF)

Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings

(HM Government, 2012)

An international treaty focused on protecting victims of trafficking, safeguarding their rights, preventing trafficking and prosecuting traffickers. It was ratified by the UK government on 17 December 2008 and came into force on 1 April 2009.

Chapter 3 sets out that signatory states have a responsibility to:

  • take measures to prevent trafficking in human beings (Article 5)
  • discourage the demand for trafficked human beings (Article 6)
  • establish border, security and control of document measures to prevent and detect trafficking in human beings (Articles 7, 8 and 9)
  • identify victims (Article 10)
  • protect and assist victims (Articles 11 and 12)
  • allow a recovery and reflection period for victims (Article 13)
  • arrange where necessary a resident permit, compensation, legal redress, repatriation (Articles 14, 15 and 16).

The Convention provides for the setting up of an independent monitoring mechanism capable of controlling the implementation of the obligations contained in the Convention (known as the National Referral Mechanism in the UK).

Download Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings (PDF)

EU directive 2011/36/EU

(European Commission, 2011)

The UK opted into Directive 2011/36/EU on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims, in 2011.

To comply with this Directive, England and Wales introduced changes to legislation in sections 109-110 of the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 and Northern Ireland passed amendments in sections 6-8 of the Criminal Justice Act (Northern Ireland) 2013 to:

  • allow a UK national to be prosecuted even if they commit the crime of trafficking in any other country in the world
  • criminalise trafficking within the UK for non-sexual exploitation.

Scotland already had legislation in place.

Further regulations were also made in the Trafficking People for Exploitation Regulations 2013 for criminal procedures in England and Wales to:

  • protect trafficked children from criminal investigations
  • ensure trafficked children are eligible for "special measures" to assist and protect witnesses.

Download EU directive 2011/36/EU (PDF)

United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto

(United Nations, 2004)

This is the main international instrument against transnational organised crime.

It's supplemented by 3 Protocols often called the Palmero protocols. One of these is the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

This Protocol is a legally binding instrument and was ratified by the UK government on 9 February 2006.

It requires each nation to establish comprehensive domestic criminal offences, policies, programmes and other measures to:

  • prevent trafficking
  • ensure victims are protected and provided with assistance
  • support international cooperation in investigating and prosecuting human trafficking cases
  • punish traffickers.

View United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime and the Protocols Thereto

Policy

National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care. It was set up in 2009 as part of the UK's implementation of the Council of Europe Convention.

The NRM is currently being reviewed and there is a pilot being carried out.

Read more about the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

Modern slavery strategy

(Home Office, 2014)

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.

This strategy sets out a cross-government approach to fighting modern slavery in the UK and internationally. It focuses on 4 areas:

  • prosecuting and disrupting the activities of those responsible for modern slavery
  • preventing people from engaging in modern slavery
  • protecting vulnerable people from exploitation, raising awareness and increasing resilience against this crime
  • improving victim identification and providing them with better support and protection.

Specific actions to tackle child trafficking and help child victims of modern slavery include:

  • developing a dedicated programme of direct engagement with ‘at risk’ communities, working closely with community leaders
  • agencies working together to identify those at risk and create a more action-focused culture within the police, health and children’s services
  • providing specialist support to child victims which includes trialling child advocates.

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

(Home Office, 2015)

Sets out priorities for the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner over 2 years. These include:

  • improved victim identification and care
  • improved law enforcement and criminal justice response
  • to facilitate best practice in partnership working, data sharing and high quality research into key issues
  • private sector engagement to ensure commercial supply chains are free from slavery
  • to encourage effective, targeted international collaboration to tackle modern slavery.

Download International Anti-Slavery Commissioner: strategic plan 2015-17 (PDF)

National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care. It was set up in 2009 as part of the UK's implementation of the Council of Europe Convention.

The NRM is currently being reviewed and there is a pilot being carried out.

Read more about the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

Modern slavery strategy

(Home Office, 2014)

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.

This strategy sets out a cross-government approach to fighting modern slavery in the UK and internationally. It focuses on 4 areas:

  • prosecuting and disrupting the activities of those responsible for modern slavery
  • preventing people from engaging in modern slavery
  • protecting vulnerable people from exploitation, raising awareness and increasing resilience against this crime
  • improving victim identification and providing them with better support and protection.

Specific actions to tackle child trafficking and help child victims of modern slavery include:

  • developing a dedicated programme of direct engagement with ‘at risk’ communities, working closely with community leaders
  • agencies working together to identify those at risk and create a more action-focused culture within the police, health and children’s services
  • providing specialist support to child victims which includes trialling child advocates.

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

(Home Office, 2015)

Sets out priorities for the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner over 2 years. These include:

  • improved victim identification and care
  • improved law enforcement and criminal justice response
  • to facilitate best practice in partnership working, data sharing and high quality research into key issues
  • private sector engagement to ensure commercial supply chains are free from slavery
  • to encourage effective, targeted international collaboration to tackle modern slavery.

Download International Anti-Slavery Commissioner: strategic plan 2015-17 (PDF)

National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care. It was set up in 2009 as part of the UK's implementation of the Council of Europe Convention.

The NRM is currently being reviewed and there is a pilot being carried out.

Read more about the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

Modern slavery strategy

(Home Office, 2014)

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.

This strategy sets out a cross-government approach to fighting modern slavery in the UK and internationally. It focuses on 4 areas:

  • prosecuting and disrupting the activities of those responsible for modern slavery
  • preventing people from engaging in modern slavery
  • protecting vulnerable people from exploitation, raising awareness and increasing resilience against this crime
  • improving victim identification and providing them with better support and protection.

Specific actions to tackle child trafficking and help child victims of modern slavery include:

  • developing a dedicated programme of direct engagement with ‘at risk’ communities, working closely with community leaders
  • agencies working together to identify those at risk and create a more action-focused culture within the police, health and children’s services
  • providing specialist support to child victims which includes trialling child advocates.

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

(Home Office, 2015)

Sets out priorities for the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner over 2 years. These include:

  • improved victim identification and care
  • improved law enforcement and criminal justice response
  • to facilitate best practice in partnership working, data sharing and high quality research into key issues
  • private sector engagement to ensure commercial supply chains are free from slavery
  • to encourage effective, targeted international collaboration to tackle modern slavery.

Download International Anti-Slavery Commissioner: strategic plan 2015-17 (PDF)

Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation Update

(Scottish Government, 2016)

Focuses on the following areas to tackle child sexual exploitation (CSE):

  • prevention of abuse
  • disruption and prosecution of offenders through legislation
  • supporting young people affected by CSE.

Download Scotland's National Action Plan to Prevent and Tackle Child Sexual Exploitation Update (PDF)

The Scottish Guardianship Service

This service supports young asylum seekers, including children who may have been trafficked, whilst their claim is assessed. On referral, the young person is appointed a guardian who is responsible for making the young person aware of their rights, explaining aspects of the asylum, trafficking and welfare system, introducing them to social opportunities and helping them integrate into community life.

View The Scottish Guardianship Service

New Scots

(Scottish Government, 2013)

Framework to support the integration of refugees and asylum seekers, including children who may have been trafficked, helping them rebuild their lives in Scotland and make a full contribution to society.

Includes guidance on ensuring that the planning and delivery of health and education services are informed by the needs of asylum seekers and refugees.

Download New Scots: integrating refugees in Scotland's communities: 2014-2017 (PDF)

Scotland's serious organised crime strategy

(Scottish Government, 2015)

Strategy to reduce the harm caused by serious organised crime including human trafficking.

Download Scotland's serious organised crime strategy (PDF)

National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care. It was set up in 2009 as part of the UK's implementation of the Council of Europe Convention.

The NRM is currently being reviewed and there is a pilot being carried out.

Read more about the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

Modern slavery strategy

(Home Office, 2014)

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking.

This strategy sets out a cross-government approach to fighting modern slavery in the UK and internationally. It focuses on 4 areas:

  • prosecuting and disrupting the activities of those responsible for modern slavery
  • preventing people from engaging in modern slavery
  • protecting vulnerable people from exploitation, raising awareness and increasing resilience against this crime
  • improving victim identification and providing them with better support and protection.

Specific actions to tackle child trafficking and help child victims of modern slavery include:

  • developing a dedicated programme of direct engagement with ‘at risk’ communities, working closely with community leaders
  • agencies working together to identify those at risk and create a more action-focused culture within the police, health and children’s services
  • providing specialist support to child victims which includes trialling child advocates.

Download Modern slavery strategy (PDF)

Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner

(Home Office, 2015)

Sets out priorities for the UK’s first Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner over 2 years. These include:

  • improved victim identification and care
  • improved law enforcement and criminal justice response
  • to facilitate best practice in partnership working, data sharing and high quality research into key issues
  • private sector engagement to ensure commercial supply chains are free from slavery
  • to encourage effective, targeted international collaboration to tackle modern slavery.

Download International Anti-Slavery Commissioner: strategic plan 2015-17 (PDF)

Guidance

Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked

(HM Government, 2011)

Provides good practice guidance for agencies in England that come into contact with children who may have been trafficked, including sections on:

  • the role of Local Safeguarding Children Boards (LSCBs)
  • the roles of specific agencies and services, and the National Referral Mechanism.

It is supplementary to, and should be used in conjunction with, the government's statutory guidance 'Working together to safeguard children' (HM Government, 2013). 

Download Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked (PDF)

Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children

(HM Government, 2014)

Sets out the steps local authorities should take to plan for the provision of support for looked after children who are unaccompanied asylum seeking children and child victims of trafficking.

Applies to:

  • local authority chief executives
  • directors and lead members of children's services
  • social care professionals
  • police officers
  • health, education and youth offender services practitioners
  • and those who care for looked after children.

Download Care of unaccompanied and trafficked children (PDF)

National referral mechanism

Guidance for child first responders

(Home Office, 2013)

Provides details on how to refer a child into the National referral mechanism and complete the referral forms, reviews of decisions and the benefits of referrals.

View National referral mechanism: guidance for child first responders

Download National referral mechanism form (child): England and Wales (ODT)

London safeguarding trafficked children guidance

(London Safeguarding Children Board, 2011)

Looks at the problem of child trafficking and provides guidance on:

  • identifying trafficked and exploited children
  • children at risk
  • use of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF)
  • information sharing
  • the role of local safeguarding boards.

It’s written by the London Safeguarding Children Board for social workers, teachers, police, health workers and other professionals who may come into contact with suspected victims of trafficking. The guidelines have been piloted in a number of local authorities across London. 

A toolkit, London safeguarding trafficked children toolkit 2011 (PDF), is also available.

Download London safeguarding trafficked children guidance (PDF)

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for frontline staff in the Home Office to help them identify and help potential victims of modern slavery including human trafficking in the UK.

View Victims of modern slavery: guidance for frontline staff

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for staff in the Home Office and UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) to help them decide whether someone referred under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a victim of modern slavery (including human trafficking) in England and Wales, or is a victim of trafficking in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It reflects relevant provision of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

Download Victims of modern slavery: competent authority guidance (PDF)

Statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care

(Department for Education, 2013)

Includes advice on protection looked after children who may have been trafficked from abroad.

View Statutory guidance on children who run away or go missing from home or care

Age assessment guidance

(ADCS, 2015)

Practice guidance to help social workers assess the age of unaccompanied children seeking asylum. Should be read in conjunction with joint working guidance (PDF) to assist the local authorities and the Home Office to negotiate joint working and information sharing.

Download Age assessment guidance: guidance to assist social workers and their managers in undertaking age assessments in England (PDF)

Human trafficking

(Home Office, 2013)

Guidance for businesses on how to spot victims of human trafficking and what to do about it.

View Human trafficking: practical guidance

Crown Prosecution Service guidance on human trafficking, smuggling and slavery

(Crown Prosecution Service, 2013)

Practical and legal guidance for prosecutors in England and Wales dealing with cases of human trafficking and smuggling. It sets out the definition of trafficking.

It presents sentencing guidelines for each statutory offence including relevant case law. Includes sections on Achieving Best Evidence (ABE), special measures, child age disputes, internal trafficking and cases where a potential victim has been charged with offences.

The guidance highlights that children and young people charged with cultivation of cannabis plants or pickpocketing may be victims of trafficking and have committed the offences by being exploited by their traffickers or others controlling them.

View Human trafficking, smuggling and slavery

Working arrangements for the welfare and safeguarding of child victims of human trafficking

(Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Police Service for Northern Ireland, 2011)

Guidance on child trafficking for practitioners in social care, education, immigration, health and law enforcement in Northern Ireland. The report details the roles of different agencies, procedures for professionals, and also looks at the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and decision-making process.

View Working arrangements for the welfare and safeguarding of child victims of human trafficking

Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland

Overarching framework for safeguarding children and young people in Northern Ireland. Section 7.3.9 covers advice on safeguarding separated, unaccompanied and trafficked children and young people.

View Co-operating to safeguard children and young people in Northern Ireland

National referral mechanism

(HM Government, 2016)

Provides details on how to refer a child into the National referral mechanism (NRM) and complete the referral forms, reviews of decisions and the benefits of referrals.

View National referral mechanism: guidance for child first responders

Download National referral mechanism form: child (Scotland and Northern Ireland) (DOC)

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for staff in the Home Office and UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) to help them decide whether someone referred under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a victim of modern slavery (including human trafficking) in England and Wales, or is a victim of trafficking in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It reflects relevant provision of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

Download Victims of modern slavery: competent authority guidance (PDF)

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for frontline staff in the Home Office to help them identify and help potential victims of modern slavery including human trafficking in the UK.

View Victims of modern slavery: guidance for frontline staff

Human trafficking

(Home Office, 2013)

Guidance for businesses on how to spot victims of human trafficking and what to do about it.

View Human trafficking: practical guidance

National referral mechanism

(HM Government, 2016)

Provides details on how to refer a child into the National referral mechanism (NRM) and complete the referral forms, reviews of decisions and the benefits of referrals.

View National referral mechanism: guidance for child first responders

Download National referral mechanism form: child (Scotland and Northern Ireland) (DOC)

Inter-agency guidance for child trafficking

(Scottish Government, 2013)

The aim of this guidance is to:

  • raise awareness of child trafficking within agencies
  • support the investigation and prosecution of those who coerce, exploit and abuse children
  • raise awareness of indicators of child trafficking
  • facilitate a consistent response and approach to children and young people involved in trafficking
  • support and encourage agencies across Scotland to work together to develop and deliver appropriate and effective service to child victims of trafficking.

Download Inter-agency guidance for child trafficking (PDF)

Age assessment practice guidance

(Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Refugee Council, 2012)

Contributes to the development of good practice in Scotland regarding the age assessment of young asylum seekers. Covers: planning and preparation; information gathering; analysis; conclusions; reporting and further actions.

Download Age assessment practice guidance: an age assessment pathway for social workers in Scotland (PDF)

National guidance for child protection in Scotland

(Scottish Government, 2014)

Guidance and a national framework for anyone who could face child protection issues at work. See p.143 for advice on child trafficking.

Download National guidance for child protection in Scotland (PDF)

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for staff in the Home Office and UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) to help them decide whether someone referred under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a victim of modern slavery (including human trafficking) in England and Wales, or is a victim of trafficking in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It reflects relevant provision of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

Download Victims of modern slavery: competent authority guidance (PDF)

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for frontline staff in the Home Office to help them identify and help potential victims of modern slavery including human trafficking in the UK.

View Victims of modern slavery: guidance for frontline staff

Human trafficking

(Home Office, 2013)

Guidance for businesses on how to spot victims of human trafficking and what to do about it.

View Human trafficking: practical guidance

All Wales practice guidance for safeguarding children who may have been trafficked

(All Wales Child Protection Procedures Review Group, 2011)

Guidance on child trafficking for practitioners in social care, education, immigration, health and law enforcement in Wales.

The report identifies the reasons for, and methods used in, trafficking as well as the roles of different agencies and procedures for professionals.

Download All Wales practice guidance for safeguarding children who may have been trafficked (PDF)

National referral mechanism

Guidance for child first responders

(Home Office, 2013)

Provides details on how to refer a child into the National referral mechanism and complete the referral forms, reviews of decisions and the benefits of referrals.

View National referral mechanism: guidance for child first responders

Download National referral mechanism form (child): England and Wales (ODT)

Age assessment of unaccompanied asylum seeking children

(Welsh Government et al, 2015)

Designed to enable a holistic, multi-agency assessment, with guidance for social workers, police and other agencies on joint work which outlines best practice on age assessment. It recommends independent checks and is guided by Merton case law principles.

Download Age assessment of accompanied asylum seeking children: all Wales multi-agency toolkit (PDF)

Crown Prosecution Service guidance on human trafficking, smuggling and slavery

(Crown Prosecution Service, 2013)

Practical and legal guidance for prosecutors in England and Wales dealing with cases of human trafficking and smuggling. It sets out the definition of trafficking.

It presents sentencing guidelines for each statutory offence including relevant case law. Includes sections on Achieving Best Evidence (ABE), special measures, child age disputes, internal trafficking and cases where a potential victim has been charged with offences.

The guidance highlights that children and young people charged with cultivation of cannabis plants or pickpocketing may be victims of trafficking and have committed the offences by being exploited by their traffickers or others controlling them.

View Human trafficking, smuggling and slavery

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for staff in the Home Office and UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC) to help them decide whether someone referred under the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a victim of modern slavery (including human trafficking) in England and Wales, or is a victim of trafficking in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It reflects relevant provision of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015.

Download Victims of modern slavery: competent authority guidance (PDF)

Victims of modern slavery

(Home Office, 2016)

Guidance for frontline staff in the Home Office to help them identify and help potential victims of modern slavery including human trafficking in the UK.

View Victims of modern slavery: guidance for frontline staff

Human trafficking

(Home Office, 2013)

Guidance for businesses on how to spot victims of human trafficking and what to do about it.

View Human trafficking: practical guidance

Europa

European Union webpages on human trafficking pulling together legislation, case law, policy, publications and news.

Visit Europa: together against trafficking in human beings

UNODC on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

Website of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Includes information, case studies, research, reports, tools, materials, news and developments on:

  • what human trafficking is
  • prevention and protection of victims
  • prosecution of offenders
  • raising awareness
  • training professionals.

Visit UNODC on human trafficking and migrant smuggling

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