The problem of Human Trafficking in the UK

Something of a depressing topic I know, but one that’s been on my mind lately. Since the Human Trafficking and Exploitation Act was passed in Scotland in October/November of 2015, it’s not uncommon to be listening to the radio when a story about human trafficking to be aired. Listening to these brought my attention to the situation regarding human trafficking in Scotland, which reportedly rose by 46% in the two years up to 2015 and I wanted to find out more about the situation and share what I found.

Victims of human trafficking in the UK come from many continents; Asia, Africa and Europe with victims having been found to be from countries such as Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and the UK itself. These people tend to be the most vulnerable members of society, coming from a background of poverty, depravation and a lack of education, nearly a quarter of which are children who have been kidnapped, tricked into leaving by being offered a better life or in some cases forced by gangs into slavery to work off their families debts.

Once in the UK victims regularly have their identity documents removed and are often subjected to physical and mental abuse, torture and rape. Many of these people find themselves forced into prostitution or into the illegal drugs trade, sometimes working in cannabis factories or meth production. These are not the only places where trafficked victims may find themselves, many others are found being exploited by businesses including as nail bars, hotels, restaurants and garment factories while others are forced into domestic slavery.

Clearly the issue is a serious one and the new legislation aims to combat this. There’s still a long way to go however, according to the results of a 2010/2011 enquiry by the Equality and human rights commission, There is little public or professional awareness of trafficking and insufficient cooperation by agencies, leading to an intelligence gap on traffickers. Time will tell wether the new legislation will close the gap and be enough to tackle the very real issue of modern day slavery in Scotland (and the wider UK) but it is a definite step forward to ending the suffering that is caused.

-Daphne B.

For more information on human trafficking in the UK, as well as advice on how to spot the signs that someone is a victim of trafficking, visit


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