Child Trafficking – advice & resources for practitioners

Child trafficking is child abuse. Children are recruited, moved or transported and then exploited, forced to work or sold. Children are trafficked for:

Many children are trafficked into the UK from abroad, but children can also be trafficked from one part of the UK to another.

The MSB has adopted the the relevant sections of the  GMSP procedures.

See also our modern slavery resource.

Independent Child Trafficking Advocates
(ICTAs) are professionals who support children who have potentially been trafficked.

The ICTAs provision was trialled by Barnardo’s who have now set up the ICTAs Service in three early adopter sites across England and Wales. The role of  the ICTA is outlined in s.48 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 and within the interim guidance ‘Child trafficking advocates: early adopter sites‘ issued by the government.

All local authorities within Greater Manchester are early adopter sites of ICTAs. This means that all children identified as potentially trafficked in this areas must be referred into Barnardo’s ICTAs Service and an ICTA will be allocated and make contact with the child within 24 hours. Making a referral quickly after identification could support in reducing missing and re-trafficking.

To make a referral
Call the 24/7 Referral Line 0800 043 4303 and the ICTA Service will support you to make the referral over the phone.

Or send a completed referral form to secure mailbox (for cjsm compatible accounts only)

The Trafficking Referral Form can be found at

Further details can be found in the Independent Child Trafficking Advocate Service leaflet issued by Barnardos.

Safeguarding Trafficked and Migrant Children

As of 31st July 2015 new human trafficking legislation came into force under the Modern Slavery Act 2015. This legislation covers both migrant and UK children trafficked into and within the UK and can assist with victim identification and the National Referral Mechanism process.

Ensure that you are able to safeguard and protect the vulnerable by means of the new powers contained with in the Act.

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation. It is a form of child abuse and requires a child protection response.

The national guidance on safeguarding migrant children, including unaccompanied asylum seekers, should be used together with local guidance.

The government guidance Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked 2011  can be found at

Further guidance

Child Trafficking Advice Centre
If you work with children or young people who may have been trafficked into the UK, contact the NSPCC specialist service for information and advice call 0808 800 5000 or email for more information or visit their website

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate care.  A range of agencies may be involved in a trafficking case such as the police, the UK Border Agency (UKBA), local authorities and non-governmental organisations such as charities.

The NRM makes it easier for these agencies to co-operate, share information and facilitate access to advice, accommodation and support – details and reports are via the website

The Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) at  provides free guidance and training to professionals concerned that a child or young person has been or is about to be trafficked into or out of the UK;  this includes:

  • advice by telephone and email to professionals
  • co-ordinating multi-agency responses, focused on protecting the child
  • delivery of  training and awareness-raising presentations in the UK and across the world
  • attending child protection meetings and produce child trafficking reports for courts
  • being a first responder for child referrals into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) research, campaign and lobby government to prevent child exploitation and protect children in tourism and child victims of trafficking. They provide training on safeguarding children from trafficking.
For guidance for professionals working with children who may have been trafficked phone: 0207 233 9887 or email: or visit the website

What is child trafficking?

Child trafficking is the recruitment and movement of children for the purpose of exploitation. This can be moving children from one country to another or moving children within a country.

The UK has ratified two national treaties (Council of Europe 2005 and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2000) to set out an agreed definition of human trafficking.

These define human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of any persons by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, or the abuse of power or a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purposes of exploitation. Exploitation can include sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, criminal activity including petty theft and cannabis cultivation, servitude, or the removal of organs.

What makes children vulnerable to being trafficked

The NSPCC lists a number of factors that can leave children vulnerable to traffickers:

  • Being from a small town or village
  • Being a migrant or illegal immigrant
  • Having a low level of education
  • Coming from an ‘at-risk’ family (low income, problems of alcoholism, domestic abuse)
  • Living without parent care or in state care
  • Being homeless.

Signs of child trafficking

The NSPCC have identified several signs that a child has been trafficked. These include:

  • Having falsified documentation
  • Being accompanied by an adult who is not the parent who insists on remaining with the child at all times
  • Having a prepared story very similar to stories given by other children
  • Not having any money but having a mobile phone
  • Being unable or reluctant to give details of accommodation or personal details
  • Having no access to their parent or guardians
  • Looking intimidated and behaving in a way that does not correspond with behaviour typical of children their age
  • Not being registered with a school or GP practice
  • Having no freedom of movement and no time for playing
  • Living apart from family and in substandard accommodation
  • Travelling without an adult or with adults who are not relatives or friends of the family
  • Being seen in inappropriate places such as brothels or factorie
  • Receiving repeated unexplained or unidentified phone calls
  • Having a history with gaps and unexplained moves or going missing for periods
  • Being required to earn a minimum amount of money every day or pay off an exorbitant debt
  • Performing excessive housework chores and rarely leaving the residence
  • Being permanently deprived of a large part of their earnings by another.

The impact of child trafficking

Child trafficking is a form of child abuse that can have long-lasting and devastating effects:

  • Physical abuse: violence
  • Sexual abuse: sexual violence, high risk of sexually transmitted infections, multiple pregnancies
  • Emotional abuse: separated from their families, friends, communities and cultures, and no access to education
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: symptoms of hostility, aggression, difficulty in recalling details or entire episodes, and difficulty concentrating.
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