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Trafficking of people is a serious crime and a violation of Human Rights. A person is trafficked if they are brought to (or moved around) a country by others who threaten, frighten, hurt and force them to do work or other things they don’t want to do. Human Trafficking affects people of all ages, gender and race.
There are many different characteristics that distinguish slavery from other human rights violations, however only one needs to be present for slavery to exist. Someone is in slavery if they are:
Forced to work - through mental or physical threat
Owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
Dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property
Physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement
Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, gender and races.
Modern Slavery is illegal.
Grooming and exploitation of young people
Any young person regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity and sexuality can be at risk of being exploited. However, there are a number of factors that can increase a young person’s vulnerability.
These include children or young people who:
Go missing, especially on regular occasions from home or care
Have a history of domestic abuse within the family environment
Have a history of abuse (including child sexual abuse, risk of forced marriage, risk of honour-based violence, physical and emotional abuse and neglect)
Have experienced or are experiencing problematic parenting
Have parents who take drugs and/or who are alcohol-dependent
Have parents with health problems
Are young carers within the family unit
Experience social exclusion as a result of poverty
Have experienced recent bereavement or loss
Have unsupervised use of social networking chat rooms/sites
Have mental ill health
Have social or learning difficulties
Have low self-esteem or self-confidence
Misuse alcohol and/or drugs
Have been or are excluded from mainstream education
Are involved in gang activity
Attend school with other young people who are sexually exploited
Are friends with individuals who are sexually exploited
Do not have friends in the same age group
Are being bullied
Live in care, foster care, hostels and/or bed and breakfast accommodation – particularly when living out of their home area
Have associations with gangs through relatives, peers or intimate relationships.
Children from loving and secure homes can also be victims of exploitation. The characteristics common to all victims are not always their age, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation, but their powerlessness and vulnerability.
Know the signs
Children and young victims often do not recognise they are being exploited. However, there are a number of signs that could indicate a child is being groomed.
Changes in temperament or suffering from depression, mood swings or changes in emotional wellbeing
Association with other young people involved in exploitation and having older boyfriends/girlfriends
Getting involved in petty crime such as shoplifting or stealing
Being absent and truanting, lack of interest and frequent poor behaviour
Considerable change in performance.
Appearing with unexplained gifts or new possessions.
Change in appearance.
Family and social relationships
Children or young people who become estranged from their family.
Sudden hostility towards family members.
Becoming physically aggressive towards family and friends.
Going missing for periods of time or regularly returning home late.
Involvement in exploitative relationships or association with risky adults.
Young people being found in towns or districts where they have no known connection.
Young people who have more than one boyfriend or who share their boyfriend.
Children or young people seen entering or leaving vehicles driven by unknown adults.
Becoming detached from age-related activities and social groups.
Being sexually active.
Receiving phone calls and/or text messages from unknown adults.
Children or young people who appear to be recruiting others into exploitative situations.
Evidence of drug, alcohol and/or substance use. Abusers may use drugs and alcohol to help control children and young people.
Unexplained physical injuries; for example, bruising suggestive of either physical assault.
Children or young people who are self-harming and demonstrating suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Making someone feel cared for, giving someone affection, building an emotional connection and trust with someone for the purpose of exploitation. The grooming process can be over a long period of time or can happen quickly.
Grooming techniques can also be used on those associated with a victim in order to support access to that victim. Many victims do not recognise manipulative techniques used by the perpetrator.
Signs to recognise human trafficking and modern slavery
Suspicions may arise in a number of ways have you noticed any of the following at premises near to you:
Heavy presence of security personnel be it a farm, factory or building site
Barred windows, locked doors or surveillance cameras
Does it look like people are working and living at the same place, are the conditions cramped or overcrowded
Are “workers” collected very early and return late at night on a regular basis
Are they driven between premises
Is there a lack of safety equipment or appropriate clothing
Many victims may appear malnourished or show signs of bruises, other injury, their appearance may be unkempt
Victims may be isolated form the local community or under the control or influence of otherS
Forced labour/labour exploitation
Forced labour is a situation in which victims are forced to work against their own will under the threat of violence or some other form of punishment. Labour exploitation is placing a worker under extremely poor conditions such as very low wages, being forced to work long hours, having their movements supervised, living in very poor conditions and having their identification documents taken away to prevent them from leaving. Victims are typically forced to work in sectors including agriculture, food processing and packaging and construction
Child labour is a form of work that is likely to be hazardous to the physical, mental or social development of children and interfere with their education. Children as young as 11 are sadly found in the sex industry or caught committing crimes such as pick pocketing.
Victims of domestic servitude may be physically or psychologically imprisoned in residential properties as domestic servants. Rich families exploit workers, making them work long hours for very little pay and no time off. Victims may find their movements restricted and live in poor accommodation, often in the loft or basement.
Debt bondage is when victims are offered a job abroad but arrive to find the job either doesn’t exist or isn’t what they expected. They are then trapped trying to pay off the cost of their travel and a job finding fee they may have been charged. In some cases families offer their children to a trafficker as payment towards their growing debt.
Commercial sexual exploitation includes pornography, prostitution and sex trafficking of men, women and children and is defined as the exploitation of a human beings in exchange for goods or money. Some sex trafficking such as prostitution is highly visible but much remains unseen in brothels, massage parlours, strip clubs and private accommodation.
What should I do if I suspect human trafficking or modern slavery?
For advice please contact the Modern Day Slavery Helpline 0800 0121 700.
Or please call Essex Police on 101 to report your suspicion or if you cannot phone use our report a non-emergency crime to provide the information. If you wish to remain anonymous you can report via crime stoppers 0800 555 111 or submit information via their Anonymous Online Form.
How can Essex Police help me as a victim?
Essex Police will believe you, your safety and welfare are paramount. Essex Police will work with you and our partner agencies through the UK Human Trafficking Centre and the Salvation Army to provide protection, shelter, and support for you. Essex Police will investigate and seek to bring to justice those who exploit others through Human Trafficking and Modern Day Slavery.
Where can I find more information?
You can download a leaflet giving further information in the following languages: Albanian, Czech, English, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Ugandan, Mandarin, Polish, Romanian, Slovakian, Vietnamese, Yoruba.
How do I get help?
Essex Police can be contacted on 101 or if you believe you are in immediate danger please call 999. If you would prefer you may contact the Modern Day Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700 or the Salvation Army on their 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 3038 151 available 24 hours a day, seven days a week or via Email: ATMS@salvationarmy.org.uk