Human Trafficking, A Local Problem

Human Trafficking Awareness Day, 11th January 2015

Human trafficking is a form of organised crime that generates billions of pounds each year and is ranked second, after drug trafficking. This criminal industry is the fastest growing globally. The protocol of this modern slavery involves force, using deception, or intimidation to exploit its victims in the most inhumane ways.  Although trafficking often involves an international cross-border element, it is also possible to be a victim of human trafficking within your own country

The United Nations defines human trafficking as ‘the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them.’

According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), this can be split into three main elements: Movement, Control and Purpose.  When children are involved the only element which needs to be present is movement.

Human trafficking has been around for a long time, however, in the last ten years the media, social organisations, and law enforcement agencies have brought this issue to the surface to join forces, resources, and develop strategies to combat this form of modern slavery.  It is a subject which many decide to ignore, believing that it does not occur in this country.  Figures published by the NCA show that Human Trafficking has been on the raise in Northern Ireland within recent years.  Victims include children, teenagers, women, and men. Social organisations and law enforcement agencies have identified the victims of Human Trafficking in various races, ethnicities, social/cultural backgrounds, ages, and genders.  A Department of Justice report stated that the sex industry in Northern Ireland and human trafficking are ‘fundamentally linked’

Due to the covert nature of trafficking, the extent of the problem in Northern Ireland is not fully known.  According to the Northern Ireland Assembly Report into Human Trafficking, ‘the borderline between exploitation and forced labour is sufficiently blurred, and that it is immigration status that makes people vulnerable to exploitation.’

Furthermore, it suggests that while much mainstream media focus is on trafficking for sexual exploitation, an apparently more common outcome for trafficking victims in Northern Ireland, is for forced labour.  However, proving

Trafficking victims are often deceived with the promise of a good job, marriage, education, and a better life.  Intimidation, humiliation, isolation, and creating dependence due to lack of English, and correct documentation, are other fear tactics used by traffickers.

While organisations such as the PSNI, UK Border Agency, local authorities and NGOs are very important in fighting Human Trafficking, the best weapon of all is you, the Community. The community is the best ally to help identify victims of Human Trafficking. The victims are in our community; it is important to know the general indicators to help identify victims.

* Trafficked victims may believe that they must work for little or no payment, against their will.

* Victims may not be in possession of their passport or other documents.

* Children may have no access to their parents or guardians. They may have no access to education and might travel in groups with people who are not relatives.

*Victims trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation may work in various locations. They might live or travel in a group, sometimes with others who do not speak the same language.

* Labour exploitation victims may live in groups in their work place and rarely leave those premises. They may have not a contract, work excessively long hours, or lack basic training. They might also be subjected to insults, abuse, threats or violence.

If you suspect that someone has been trafficked, contact the PSNI on 999, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111


  1. Clare Mowattin Aug 17, 2015 - 07:11 AM

    Thank you for every other magnificent article. Where else may just anybody get that kind of info in Northern Ireland?
    I’ve a presentation next week, and I am on the look for such information.


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