CARE: Christian Action, Research and Education

Human Trafficking
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Human trafficking, modern day slavery and exploitation in the commercial sex industry are some of the grossest violations of human dignity. As Christians, God calls us to bring freedom and restoration to those who are oppressed and ill-treated as a sign of our commitment to Him.

CARE believes that every person is made in the image of God and that human trafficking is a violation of that fundamental truth. CARE has been working since 2006 for change through advocacy within the UK Parliaments and Assemblies and in Europe.

Reducing modern slavery starts with putting the needs of victims first. Join us in working to tackle demand for human trafficking, advocating for a longer period of support for victims, and for improved victim care – particularly for children.

Topic primer

Human trafficking involves recruiting, transporting or holding a person by use of threats, coercion or deception in order to exploit them. Essentially, it is the oppression and abuse of people motivated by financial or personal gain. It is often described as a form of modern-day slavery.

Trafficking happens in all parts of the world, both across international borders and within countries. Because trafficking is, by nature, a hidden and secretive crime, it is hard to know precisely how many people are affected. However, research shows there are now more people enslaved around the world than in all the 400 years of the trans-Atlantic slave trade. An estimated 40 million people are in modern day slavery worldwide. Trafficking for sexual exploitation is the most common globally with 54 per cent of all identified victims. Forced labour and domestic servitude is the second most prevalent, accounting for 38 per cent victims.

Each year about 5,000 men, women and children are identified as possible victims of trafficking in the UK, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. There are thought to be 10,000 – 13,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. A 2018 estimate by the Walk Free Foundation suggests there may be ten times that number: 136,000 people hidden in modern slavery in the UK.

Over 5,000 referrals were made to the UK authorities in 2017, where people were identified as potential victims of trafficking. This is an increase of one third from 2016 and includes individuals from 116 countries and over 2,000 children. 34% of these people referred were in sexual exploitation and 46% were in labour exploitation.

The UK is also among the top 10 ‘source’ countries for trafficking victims in our own country. In particular, British children are being trafficked by organised groups. They groom them, developing relationships, often plying them with gifts, alcohol and drugs, before forcing them into prostitution or to sell drugs in towns across the country (so-called “county lines” activity). British men are also being trafficked within the UK for exploitative labour.

Victims of trafficking are often tricked into coming to the UK by false promises or because of threats against them or their family. People are trafficked into prostitution, pornography, agricultural and building labour, manufacturing, domestic servitude, forced begging, benefit fraud, petty criminality and organ removal. They are forced to work for little or no pay; they may have limited freedom and poor living conditions. Many experience physical or emotional abuse.

When someone escapes from slavery, they need somewhere safe to say, medical treatment, mental health support, legal advice, education and support to rebuild their life.

Unlike victims of modern slavery in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the law in England and Wales does not currently give victims a right to support. This has left many victims of modern slavery homeless, destitute and at risk of being retrafficked.

CARE is working to ensure that our current laws on human trafficking are implemented effectively and we are continuing to call for further action where we believe it is needed.

Find out more about what CARE is doing to fight human trafficking.

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Kevin Bales
Slavery is not a hor­ror safely con­fined to the past; it con­tin­ues to exist through­out the world, even in developed countries…Across the world slaves work and sweat and build and suffer.
Kevin Bales Professor of Contemporary Slavery, University of Nottingham
Melanie wasser 233297 unsplash

Join us in helping modern slavery victims live free for good.

When someone escapes from slavery, they need somewhere safe to say, medical treatment, mental health support, legal advice, education and support to rebuild their life.

Unlike victims of modern slavery in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the law in England and Wales does not currently give victims a right to support. This has left many victims of modern slavery homeless, destitute and at risk of being re-trafficked.

CARE has joined leading anti-trafficking charities and businesses to form the Free for Good campaign, which backs the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill. This Bill will give all victims at least 12 months of support in law.

Reducing modern slavery starts with putting the needs of victims first.

Join us in helping victims live free for good.

Support the Bill

Cause history

2009 Europe 0

Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings

This Convention, of which the UK Government is a signatory, gives provision for the care and protection of people who have been trafficked and steps that should be taken to prevent trafficking.

Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings
2011 EU Parliament Brussels 2 Credit Photo European Parliament 4

The EU Anti-trafficking Directive

The EU passed a Directive on preventing and combating trafficking in human beings and protecting its victims. Along with other NGOs we successfully campaigned for the UK Government to opt-in to the Directive after the Government initially refused. The deadline for bringing the Directive into UK law passed on 6 April 2013. We continue to press the Government to implement the Directive to the fullest degree.

The EU Anti-trafficking Directive
2015 Hol2 0 13

Modern Slavery Act 2015

This replaces criminal offences previously found in the Sexual Offences Act 2003, the Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants) Act 2004 and the Coroners and Justice Act 2009. The Bill went through a long development process including a draft Bill scrutinised by MPs and peers, and many revisions were made before the Bill finally passed in March 2015.

Modern Slavery Act 2015
2015 Lord Morrow Demand event 7

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015

This law began life as a private members Bill introduced by Lord Morrow MLA to the Northern Ireland Assembly in September 2013. The Act incorporate changes to the criminal offences similar to those made for England and Wales in the Modern Slavery Act but also provides much more comprehensive provisions to support victims and deter traffickers including making it illegal to pay for sexual services.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015
2015 Scottish Parl front 0

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015

This replaces criminal offences previously found in the Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2003, and Criminal Justice and Licensing (Scotland) Act 2010. The law includes many similar provisions to those in the Northern Ireland Act including more extensive measures to support victims than are found in the Modern Slavery Act for England and Wales. The Bill was also amended to provide child trafficking victims with independent guardians and to ensure a strong presumption against prosecuting children for crimes committed as a result of exploitation.

Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015
2017-2018 Free for Good proest with survivoves 2

Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill

Lord McColl of Dulwich introduced a Private Members’ Bill to put support for victims of human trafficking into law in England and Wales as it already is in Scotland and Northern Ireland. The Bill also gave people confirmed to be victims by the authorities a 12 month period of support in the UK including housing, money for basic needs and the help of a support worker. The Bill passed all stages in the House of Lords unamended.

Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill
July 2018 Human trafficking 3 5

Home Affairs Select Committee Modern Slavery Inquiry is launched

A wide inquiry into modern slavery policy following several other reports critical of the Government’s progress over recent years. The Committee took evidence from a number of experts criticising the amount of support available to victims and expressing support for Lord McColl’s Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill.

Modern Slavery Inquiry
July 2018 Human beings not for sale 2

Independent Modern Slavery Act 2015 Review is launched

The Government commissioned Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss to conduct an independent review of aspects of the Modern Slavery Act 2015. By March 2019 the Review had published four interim reports and among its recommendations suggested changes to strengthen the role of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and allowing independent child trafficking advocates to continue supporting young people beyond their 18th birthday.

Independent Modern Slavery Act 2015 Review
June 2019 Slavery pic 9

Home Office concedes Judicial Review on support for victims

The Government conceded its 45-day policy of support for confirmed victims of human trafficking is incompatible with the Trafficking Convention. Under this policy, once a person has been confirmed as a victim, they receive just 45 days more support, in what is called a ‘move on period’. This includes things like safe housing, advice and financial aid. The Home Office has said it will develop a ‘sustainable needs-based system for supporting victims of trafficking’.

January 2020 Lord M

Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill is reintroduced

Lord McColl re-introduces his Bill. The new version of the Bill gives victims a minimum of 12 months support to comply with the earlier Judicial Review. The Bill also includes provisions on data reporting, minimising the risk of child victims being re-trafficked, and extending a minimum of 12 months leave to remain to Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Find out more
March 2020 Donaldson

CARE raises concerns about Covid-19 pandemic impact on modern slavery victims

CARE works with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP on an amendment calling for official guidance from the Govt on how to safeguard modern slavery victims during the covid-19 pandemic.

Read more
September 2020 Cristian newman 7 KHCN Cddn2 U unsplash

CARE calls for clarity on impact of Brexit on modern slavery victims

CARE works with Peers who ask the Government to confirm how rights for human trafficking victims will apply following the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Find out more
October 2020 Stormont General

New All Party Modern Slavery Group launched at Stormont with CARE NI support

CARE NI help launch a new All Party Group at the Northern Ireland Assembly on modern slavery.

Find out more
March 2021 Ffg logo

CARE joins others in calling for more support for victims

CARE joins with other anti-trafficking campaigners to call on the UK Government to adopt the Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill as part of its post-Covid agenda.

Read more
6 July 2021 Chad madden x Woh P8 D i0 M unsplash

Nationality and Borders Bill introduced to Parliament

The UK Government introduces a Nationality and Borders Bill to the Commons. While the Bill is primarily dealing with changes to the asylum system, there are several clauses to do with modern slavery.

Find out more
19 July 2021 London Slide 1

Nationality and Borders Bill - Second Reading

MPs debate the NBB and CARE helps raise concerns about the impact of the Bill on victims of modern slavery. The Bill passes and moves to Committee Stage.

Find out more
November 2021 NBB T

CARE publishes new briefing on Nationality and Borders Bill and Modern Slavery

To help raise awareness about the disastrous impact the NBB could have on modern slavery victims, CARE publishes a new briefing outlining 6 key concerns.

Read the briefing
12 November 2021 Lauren and Bex before Justice Committee

CARE NI gives evidence on modern slavery victim support

CARE NI appears before the Justice Committee and urges MLAs to increase guaranteed support for confirmed victims of modern slavery in Northern Ireland.

Read more
29 November 2021 Lord M

Lord McColl's Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill has its First Reading in the Lords

Lord McColl introduces his Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill in the House of Lords during First Reading. The Bill aims to guarantee confirmed modern slavery victims in England and Wales at least 12 months support. The Bill joins the queue for a Second Reading.

Read more
8 December 2021 House of Lords at sunset

Government commits to 12 months support for some victims

Following pressure from MPs, during a debate on the Nationality and Borders Bill, the Government gave MPs: “an assurance that all those who receive a positive conclusive grounds decision and are in need of tailored support will receive appropriate individualised support for a minimum of 12 months", adding that further details will be set out "in relevant guidance". In response, MP Iain Duncan Smith said he expected the Government's words to be reflected in the face of the Bill.

Read more
15 March 2022 CARE's Rebecca and Lauren with MLA Sinéad Bradley

Northern Ireland Assembly approves long-term support for confirmed victims

Following months of work, CARE was invited to the public gallery as MLAs approved measures to give confirmed victims in Northern Ireland up to 12 months support and longer if required.

Read more

Recent human trafficking news

Car wash modern slavery 6

UK must do better on support for modern slavery victims

The latest Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report from the US State Department has criticised the UK Government over measures that will 'hinder victim identification and protection efforts' for survivors of modern slavery.

Read article
Rishi and Liz

Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss asked how they would curb human trafficking

Sir Mo Farah

Sir Mo Farah: I was trafficked to UK as a child

Ukraine refugees

Sex traffickers preying on Ukrainian women

University 0

Traffickers exploiting student Visas



Here are a range of resources to help you dig deeper on the issue of human trafficking.

Nationality and Borders Bill Briefing

Nation­al­ity and Bor­ders Bill Briefing

How the Bill will impact modern slavery victims

The UK Government's Nationality and Borders Bill is primarily dealing with immigration and changes to the asylum system. But there are clauses in the Bill which relate to modern slavery. We are deeply concerned the overall impact will be hugely damaging for victims. Our briefing explains more.

Read more
‘I was freed from modern slavery. Now I work tirelessly to save others’

I was freed from mod­ern slavery. Now I work tire­lessly to save others’

The inspiring story of Analiza Guevarra.

A Filipino woman who escaped modern slavery now spends her time fighting to free others through an organisation operating out of a south London church. Read more about her story.

Read more
Women in the shadows

Women in the shadows

The Clewer Initiative have released a series of hard-hitting video's which show the reality of human trafficking and modern slavery here in the UK.

Watch more
Ope: 'I was trafficked into UK prostitution'

Ope: I was traf­ficked into UK prostitution’

28-year-old Ope was brought from Nigeria to Coventry to work as a prostitute. Figures from the National Crime Agency show nearly 800 women and girls working in the sex trade were identified as trafficking victims in 2014, with many of those coming from West Africa. Ope told her story to the Victoria Derbyshire Programme. Her name and some have been changed for her own protection.

The Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill: A Cost-Benefit Analysis

The Mod­ern Slavery (Vic­tim Sup­port) Bill: A Cost-Bene­fit Analysis

CARE assisted with a report, by the University of Nottingham Human Rights Lab, which provided a cost-benefit analysis of Lord McColl's Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill. The report showed that the benefits and savings of providing longer-term support to survivors of modern slavery significantly outweigh the costs. It calls on the Government to implement the Bill as soon as possible.

Read the report
BBC Scotland Investigates 2017 Humans for Sale

BBC Scot­land Invest­ig­ates 2017 Humans for Sale

BBC Scotland produced the hard hitting investigation into "Humans for Sale" in 2017.

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If you suspect an instance of trafficking in your area

If you suspect an instance of trafficking in your area you can contact:

• the Police (101 or 999 if someone is in immediate danger)

• the National Modern Slavery Helpline (0800 0121 700

• Crimestoppers (0800 555 where you can leave information anonymously

Do not confront a suspected trafficker or victim of trafficking. Your safety and that of any possible victims is of primary importance.

Contact the modern slavery helpline

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At the heart of all of CARE’s work is our determination to uphold the truth that human beings made in God’s image are immensely valuable and deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion.

We want to show a better story for our culture and society, and we want to be part of shaping that in structures that we are given as citizens in the UK…

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You can make a difference today.

Together we can make a difference shaping our culture and society. Here are three things you can do right now…


We believe God cares deeply about those who are vulnerable and exploited. Join us in praying for victims to be properly supported and for perpetrators to be brought to justice.

Pray now


Ask your MP to support key amendment to the Nationality and Borders Bill to give confirmed modern slavery victims at least 12 months support

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Raise awareness.

Hold a Human Trafficking Sunday at your church

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