About Human Trafficking

Q: What is the simplest way to explain human trafficking?

The commonly accepted international definition of human trafficking comes from the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, which is one of three Protocols known collectively as the Palermo Protocols. The best way to understand human trafficking is to split it into its three elements; each element must be present to establish a case of trafficking. Ask yourself – has there been:

The ACT – What is done

e.g. recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.

The MEANS – How it is done

e.g. threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or position of vulnerability, giving or receiving of payments/benefits.

The PURPOSE – Why it is done

e.g. prostitution, sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery, servitude, removal of organs.

Where the suspected victim is a child, it’s only necessary to demonstrate that the ‘act’ and ‘exploitation’ elements exist. Read more on our Human Trafficking pages.

Q: Is it only human trafficking if victims are transported across national borders?

No! The Protocol recognizes a number of ‘acts’ (transfer, recruitment, harbouring or receipt of persons) but it doesn’t specify that those actions need to cross borders. When someone is moved from place to place or town to town within a country as a result of transport, transfer, recruitment, harboring or receipt of persons they are also trafficked. This kind of trafficking within a country is called ‘internal trafficking’. When a person has moved or been moved across a national border it is ‘external trafficking’. Both types are prohibited by the Protocol. Read more on our Human Trafficking pages.

Q: What if people travel willingly to the country where they are exploited?

The Protocol answers this question. Take ‘Jacob’ as an example. Jacob responds to a job posting offering certain wages and accommodation for work in a UK city. This seems a great opportunity and Jacob travels to the city willingly. Jacob has been recruited for work by the person who posted the advertisement and he has transported himself; either the recruitment or the transport is enough to satisfy the ‘act’ element from the Protocol’s definition of trafficking.

When Jacob arrives for the job he’s told he has to pay off the cost of the accommodation he’s offered but with deductions for food and transport to and from work, and with the unreasonably low wages Jacob will never have enough money to pay off the accommodation. Now he’s trapped in a cycle of debt. Jacob was promised certain work and conditions but the promise has turned out to be false; he was deceived into travelling to the UK city, that deception is the ‘means’ element of the definition.

The fact that Jacob works for no real pay because of all those unreasonable deductions means he is being exploited. He is a victim of exploitation for forced labour. The labour is forced because he does it under ‘menace or penalty’, the penalty being that he must pay off his debt. Jacob transported himself (‘act’), he did this because he was deceived (‘means’) and now he’s been exploited to work for no real pay (‘exploitation’). Jacob is a trafficking victim, despite having made his initial journey to the UK freely. Read more on our Human Trafficking pages.

Q: What if people aren’t kept captive physically, is that still trafficking?

Force, abduction, physical confinement and rough handling is what we most often associate with trafficking; someone tied to a bed or locked in a trailer, for example.

But traffickers more often use psychological or emotional manipulation, such as threats against the victim’s family, debt bondage, the use of shame as a weapon, insidious threats of violence, or the long-term ‘grooming’ of a victim to believe the trafficker is their lover or friend. Traffickers may manipulate their victims by creating fear of others; there have been instances of traffickers dressing as police officers before raping a victim. Acts like this falsely convince a victim that the police cannot be trusted and should be feared. There has been an increasing trend of traffickers targeting vulnerable groups in society for recruiting victims. Their vulnerabilities make them easy to control without needing to resort to physical measures. Common examples include alcoholics and the homeless.

Q: Is there really a lot of trafficking in the US, UK or Norway? Isn’t it a ‘developing world’ problem?

Trafficking is a global problem and it’s happening in our communities, perhaps even on our street. It is now thought to be the third biggest criminal enterprise in the world.

The International Labour Organization estimates that forced labour in the private economy generates US$150 billion in illegal profits per year. Since people pay more for services in ‘developed’ nations, there is more profit to be made from forced labour and sex trafficking in nations like our own than in ‘developing’ countries. Read more on our Human Trafficking pages.

Q: How trustworthy are the statistics?

It’s impossible to know the exact number of victims because it’s a hidden crime. The most reliable global estimate comes from the International Labour Organization, a specialised agency of the UN. Its current estimate is 24.9 million people in forced labour, sexual exploitation or domestic servitude, plus another 15.4 million in forced marriages, for a total of 40.3 million people.

In the UK, work by the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor Bernard Silverman, has estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. However, in August 2017, the National Crime Agency (NCA) suggested that figure was too low and that there are actually ‘tens of thousands’ of victims. Will Kerr, the NCA’s Director of Vulnerabilities, said: “The growing body of evidence we are collecting points to the scale being far larger than anyone had previously thought. The intelligence we are gaining is showing that there are likely to be far more victims out there, and the numbers of victims in the UK has been underestimated.”

Hope for Justice agrees with that analysis. It is important, however, not to become distracted or overwhelmed by the statistics, but to remember instead that behind every single number is a real human being, each with their own story and their own hopes and dreams, cruelly ripped away from them by those seeking to profit from misery and abuse.

Q: How can I spot the signs in my own community?

Each case of trafficking and modern slavery looks different, although there are some common indicators of trafficking and more specific ones for each type of trafficking. The existence of any one or even a number of indicators is not proof, but combined with your best judgement it is sensible to report any concerns about an individual or yourself to Hope for Justice. Learn to spot the signs here.

Q: What should I do if I suspect trafficking?

If you or someone else is in immediate danger, call the police. Otherwise, contact Hope for Justice:

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

Reporting in the US:
Contact Hope for Justice on 615.356.0946 or email info.us@hopeforjustice.org

Reporting in other countries:

Contact local law enforcement.

If you report potential trafficking activity to Hope for Justice, we will try to keep you informed about the progress of the case. However, the information we gather following a report is often subject to confidentiality. While we understand you may want to be kept fully informed, this is not always possible or appropriate.

About Hope for Justice

Q: What is Hope for Justice’s strategy to combat modern slavery?

Hope for Justice has a strategy based on ‘Preventing exploitation, Rescuing victims, Restoring lives, and Reforming society’. Find out more about What We Do here.

Hope for Justice’s work around the world is split into four core strands:

PREVENTING EXPLOITATION: Our outreach teams, Self-Help Groups and community education initiatives empower people to protect themselves and their families from predatory traffickers and their recruiters.

RESCUING VICTIMS: Investigators work closely with police and other agencies to identify victims of modern slavery, build bridges of trust with them and remove them from exploitation.

RESTORING LIVES: The charity’s multi-disciplinary advocacy team provide victim-centred support, including help to access housing, benefits, employment, mental health support and legal assistance. They support survivors through the criminal and civil justice processes to ensure they receive restitution. In Cambodia, Ethiopia and Uganda, Hope for Justice runs aftercare residential and educational facilities, plus extensive outreach and reintegration programmes.

REFORMING SOCIETY: Hope for Justice trains frontline professionals – including police / law enforcement agencies, healthcare workers, homeless shelter staff, NGOs, community groups and many others – to spot the signs of modern slavery and to respond effectively. We also seek policy change through governments and the media. Via Slave-Free Alliance, we help businesses protect their operations and supply chains, and encourage businesses to improve their practices.

Our frontline work also provides the evidence base to inform our campaigning work to ensure that law, policy and practice work to protect victims and combat the problem. We regularly work closely with legislators to make the case for positive change.


Q: What do you mean by the term ‘rescue’?

We use the word ‘rescue’ when the intervention of our specialist staff directly removes a victim of human trafficking from a situation of exploitation or profound vulnerability to exploitation.

Rescues range from month-long observation operations that develop into contact with a victims and their safe removal from their situation of exploitation to attending a homeless shelter to meet a victim referred by staff who have been trained by Hope for Justice, then arranging that individual’s entry into safe-house accommodation.

No matter how we get to the point of meeting that victim, we celebrate their rescue once it’s happened. Our expert intervention means a life changed and another step taken toward ending slavery for good. Find out more about the work of Hope for Justice on our What We Do page.


Q: Where does Hope for Justice operate?

Hope for Justice operates in the UK, USA, Cambodia, Norway, Ethiopia, Uganda, Australia and Zimbabwe (via a partner organisation) but doesn’t currently operate all programme areas in all countries.


Q: Does Hope for Justice work with the government and police?

Hope for Justice has worked closely with law enforcement on investigations and prosecutions and has been invited to play a part in victim reception during large raids. We are a vital ‘alternative pathway’ for victims too scared to engage directly with law enforcement, at least at first. Many victims come from countries with disreputable policing or have been instilled with a fear of the authorities by their trafficker. This means that even where frontline police officers are fully versed in trafficking law, there is still a need for Hope for Justice to act as a trusted intermediary. We also provide training on the indicators of trafficking, recording trafficking offences and other country-specific advice and training. Find out more about What We Do.


Q: Why does the fight against modern slavery require an NGO?

The kind of fear and manipulation experienced by many victims means they would never consider reporting their situation to police or law enforcement. This creates a desperate need for a trusted third party to identify victims, raise public awareness, provide excellent aftercare and train frontline professionals who can build bridges between the victim and the police. Hope for Justice works closely with victims to make sure they enter safe accommodation and get the support they require. After some time in a safe environment, victims are often able to overcome the fear they’ve been instilled with. At this point the victim may feel comfortable telling their story to the police but it is always the victim’s choice whether to cooperate with the police.


Q: What results has Hope for Justice’s strategy produced so far?

Hope for Justice is committed to rescuing and restoring every victim of modern day slavery and we’re building an organisation to make that possible. Hear about our recent successes on our News page or read our most recent Year in Review. We can’t always share about our successes because of ongoing police investigations and because of our commitment to protect and respect the privacy of the victims we have helped.


Q: Is Hope for Justice a Christian organisation?

Hope for Justice was founded on the principles of the Christian faith. Many, but by no means all, of our staff come from a church background. All staff are expected to work in a way that reflects core values of respect, tolerance, passion for justice and appreciation of the value of individuals. The organisation strives for high standards of professionalism, openness and integrity but the service we deliver is not evangelistic.


Q: How is Hope for Justice funded and regulated?

Hope for Justice is primarily funded by private individuals, a small number of trusts and partnerships with churches. Some revenue is also generated from our training and work with businesses via Slave-Free Alliance. Take a look at our Financials.

In the UK, Hope for Justice is proud to be registered with the Fundraising Regulator, meaning we agree to ensure all of our fundraising is legal, open, honest and respectful. The standards for fundraising are set out in the Code of Fundraising Practice. We also abide by the Fundraising Promise.

In the US, Hope for Justice has earned the Excellence in Giving Transparency Certificate after an independent analysis of 175 data points across strategy, leadership, financial, and impact data. This certification gives donors the opportunity to find our organisation, recognise our commitment to transparency, and determine if we are the right fit for their giving priorities.


Q: Will the money I donate be spent in my country?

Hope for Justice had projects across four continents, and your donations are directed toward whichever of our life-changing programmes is most in need. We work hard to make sure that each programme works to the highest standards and results in the greatest number of people being rescued and restored. You can be sure that every penny you donate works hard to bring freedom, justice and restoration to victims. Find out more about the lives changed by our donors’ generosity: read survivors’ stories.


Q: What is Natalie Grant’s role in Hope for Justice?

Natalie Grant founded Abolition International, one of the three organisations that became Hope for Justice in 2014. Natalie is a co-founder of Hope for Justice and an ambassador for the abolitionist cause. As a Grammy-nominated recording artist, Natalie uses her platform to raise awareness of the plight of trafficking victims in the US and around the world and sits on the Board of Hope for Justice. Meet the rest of Our Team.


Q: Will the new expanded Hope for Justice still be a local solution to modern slavery?

We’ve always seen Hope for Justice as a community intent on ending modern slavery. Each of the founding organisations started by providing practical help to people, and together we’re keeping our local focus, we’re just creating a way for more people to join the abolitionist movement! Together we’ll be rescuing and restoring many more people. Read the stories of the individual lives we’ve changed – survivor stories.