Spot the Signs

Awareness can save lives.

Human trafficking is happening all around us.

Victims are often hidden away, but it is possible you will encounter individuals or situations of concern. Knowing how to ‘spot the signs’ could save lives.

The indicators below should be considered together and even if you are able to apply one or two or even three of the indicators to a person they are not necessarily trafficked. However, if you have any suspicions about human trafficking in your area you should report it.

 

General Indicators

Trafficking victims are often lured into another country by false promises and so may not easily trust others. They may:

  • Be fearful of police/authorities
  • Be fearful of the trafficker, believing their lives or family members’ lives are at risk if they escape
  • Exhibit signs of physical and psychological trauma e.g. anxiety, lack of memory of recent events, bruising, untreated conditions
  • Be fearful of telling others about their situation
  • Be unaware they have been trafficked and believe they are simply in a bad job
  • Have limited freedom of movement
  • Be unpaid or paid very little
  • Have limited access to medical care
  • Seem to be in debt to someone
  • Have no passport or mention that someone else is holding their passport
  • Be regularly moved to avoid detection
  • Be controlled by use of witchcraft e.g. Ju Ju

Sexual Exploitation

Be aware: ordinary residential housing/hotels are being used more and more for brothels. People forced into sexual exploitation may:

  • Be moved between brothels, sometimes from city to city
  • Sleeping on work premises
  • Display a limited amount of clothing, of which a large proportion is sexual
  • Display substance misuse
  • Be forced, intimidated or coerced into providing sexual services
  • Be subjected to abduction, assault or rape
  • Be unable to travel freely e.g. picked up and dropped off at work location by another person
  • Have money for their services provided collected by another person

Forced Labour

Where all the work is done under the menace of a penalty or the person has not offered himself voluntarily and is now unable to leave. They may experience:

  • Threat or actual physical harm
  • Restriction of movement or confinement
  • Debt bondage i.e. working to pay off a debt or loan, often the victim is paid very little or nothing at all for their services because of deductions
  • Withholding of wages or excessive wage reductions
  • Withholding of documents e.g. passport/security card
  • Threat of revealing to authorities an irregular immigration status
  • Their employer is unable to produce documents required
  • Poor or non-existent health and safety standards
  • Requirement to pay for tools and food
  • Imposed place of accommodation (and deductions made for it)
  • Pay that is less than minimum wage
  • Dependence on employer for services
  • No access to labour contract
  • Excessive work hours/few breaks

Child Abuse

“An abuse of a child’s vulnerability by a person’s position of power or trust, exploiting that position to obtain sexual services in exchange for some form of favour such as alcohol, drugs, attention or gifts” – Engage Team, Blackburn

You may notice a child that is:

  • Often going missing/truanting
  • Secretive
  • Has unexplained money/presents
  • Experimenting with drugs/alcohol
  • Associating with/being groomed by older people (not in normal networks)
  • In relationships with significantly older people
  • Taking part in social activities with no plausible explanation
  • Seen entering or leaving vehicles with unknown adults
  • Showing evidence of physical/sexual assault (including STD’s)
  • Showing signs of low self image/self harm/eating disorder

Criminal Activities

The person is recruited and forced/deceived into conducting some form of criminal activity such as pick pocketing, begging, cannabis cultivation and benefit fraud.

Same indicators as for forced labour but for cannabis cultivation you may also notice:

  • Windows of property are permanently covered from the inside
  • Visits to property are at unusual times
  • Property may be residential
  • Unusual noises coming from the property e.g. machinery
  • Pungent smells coming from the property

Domestic Servitude

A particularly serious form of denial of freedom; this includes the obligation to provide certain services and the obligation to live on another person property without the possibility of changing those circumstances. They may:

  • Be living and working for a family in a private home
  • Not be eating with the rest of the family
  • Have no bedroom or proper sleeping place
  • Have no private space
  • Be forced to work excessive hours; “on call” 24 hours a day
  • Never leave the house without the ‘employer’
  • Be malnourished
  • Be reported as missing or accused of crime by their ‘employer’ if they try to escape

Report a Concern

 

Reporting in the UK:
Contact Hope for Justice on 0300 008 8000 (local rate call) or email info.uk@hopeforjustice.org to report a concern.

 

Reporting in the US:
Contact Hope for Justice on (615) 356-0946 or email info.us@hopeforjustice.org to report a concern.

 

IMPORTANT: If you have reason to believe a person is
in immediate danger you should call the police first.