What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud, coercion or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. It is a form of modern slavery.

Human trafficking is a crime. It does not always involve international transportation. Trafficking in the UK includes commercial, sexual and bonded labour. Trafficked people have little choice in what happens to them and often suffer abuse due to violence and threats made against them or their families. In effect, they become commodities owned by traffickers, used for profit.

These three elements all form part of trafficking:

  • The act: recruiting, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
  • The means: force, fraud, coercion, deception
  • The purpose: exploitation

Human trafficking victims

Victims include those transported around the UK into exploitative situations, those born into servitude, or those who escape a trafficker before being exploited.

Human trafficking also includes anyone who once consented to work for a trafficker or slave master or participated in a crime as a direct result of being enslaved.


Human trafficking myths and facts - find out more