Human trafficking myths and facts

Here are some myths and facts about trafficking in the UK today.


Myth: trafficking affects foreigners

Wrong. In fact, more than a quarter of all victims of trafficking found in the UK last year were British (26%), making this the most common victim nationality, followed by Albanian (16%) and Vietnamese (8%).

British people are trafficked in many ways. These could include:

  • Homeless people offered jobs that turn out to come with threats and without pay
  • Teenagers groomed by gangs into criminal acts such as shoplifting
  • Young people and adults coerced or manipulated to act as drug couriers or dealers
  • Girls and women forced into prostitution by abusive partners or by organised criminals.

County lines is when gangs and drug dealers use children to transport and sell drugs across the country, using "county line" mobile phone numbers for different regions.

All of the above and more would involve trafficking.

Myth: Human trafficking involves crossing an international border

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

You don't have to cross an international border, and much trafficking takes place within countries. It could refer to county lines. It could even mean taking someone just next door.

Myth: Most victims of trafficking are smuggled into the UK

Not true. For a start many are British. But even among those that did travel to the UK, more than half of those reported to the Modern Slavery Helpline in 2018 arrived by plane (where means of transport was known).

The most common methods of travel to the UK by potential victims (PVs) in 2018 were by plane (732 PVs); bus or coach (232 PVs); car (124 PVs); boat (63 PVs); and lorry (53 PVs).

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