Office move

We have relocated! Our new office address is: 

Thomas Clarkson House
The Stable Yard
Broomgrove Road
SW9 9TL 

Please note we are currently experiencing technical difficulties with our phone systems. If you have an urgent enquiry, please call 07402 113985


Prosecuting traffickers

There is real cause for concern from ECPAT UK and others that so few child trafficking cases have been prosecuted – against what is a growing number of concerns reported by local authorities and others.

If 95 children were referred to the National Referral Mechanism by police, local authorities and immigration officials in the three months from July 2011 to September 2011, then  surely there should be a consistent number of police investigations across the country. However, this is not the case and ECPAT UK is at a loss to know why child trafficking is not being investigated or why police inquiries are not being progressed. This issue needs urgent attention because if traffickers are not prosecuted these crimes will continue and more children will remain at risk.

ECPAT UK believes that proactive policing is essential when trying to uncover, investigate and prosecute traffickers and trafficking networks and the police response to all human trafficking should be delivered collaboratively between forces and their international partners. However, where children are concerned this must also be situated within the context of child abuse investigations and as such any strategic lead must work within the norms and standards of child protection and safeguarding in the UK.

Whilst local police forces should be equipped with the knowledge and operational capacity to investigate child trafficking as part of their child abuse investigations, the reality is that these teams are often not well equipped to deal with complex cases with an international dimension.

Designated senior police officers from forces across the UK should be appointed as trafficking specialists and supported by strong leadership working to a comprehensive plan to protect children, prosecute traffickers and prevent the trafficking of children.

ECPAT UK offers specialist training for police officers and staff. We are confident that an improved knowledge of human trafficking and, more specifically, child trafficking will enhance officers’ awareness and understanding. In their role as first responders in identifying such victims, this will increase their ability to protect children coming to their notice in their daily roles from patrol to investigation of crime.

To find out more about our training courses, including 'Investigating Child Trafficking' for police only, click here.

All children in the UK are subject to UK laws relating to the protection of children. Human trafficking can be prosecuted under a range of legislation (see below), however ,a variety of other offences are also usually present when investigating the trafficking of children, including assault, rape and neglect. Under the Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings, the UK has a duty to prosecute traffickers.

The Children Act (1989) and The Children Act (2004)

Gangmasters Licensing Act

Asylum and Immigration (Treatment of Claimants, etc.) Act

Sexual Offences Act

Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act

Human Rights Act 1998

For CPS guidance on the above human trafficking offences, click here.

Guidance for professionals
The CPS has published guidance entitled 'CPS Policy for Prosecuting Cases of Human Trafficking'.

The Law Society has produced a practice note, 'Criminal prosecutions of victims of trafficking'. It states that this practice note should be read by all practitioners who may be involved in criminal cases where issues of human trafficking arises.

The Association of Chief Police Officers issued guidance on this issue of children being discovered in cannabis factories: 'Position from ACPO Lead’s on Child Protection and Cannabis Cultivation on Children and Young People Recovered in Cannabis Farms'

The convictions for trafficking in the UK are extremely low. See the below Parliamentary Question, tabled by Fiona Mactaggart MP, for the latest convictions of traffickers.

Written (MoJ)

20 Feb 2012 : Column 512W

Human Trafficking

Fiona Mactaggart: To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many convictions there were for offences related to human trafficking in each year since 2004. [95128]

Mr Blunt: The number of defendants found guilty at all courts for human trafficking in England and Wales, from 2004 to 2010 (latest available) can be viewed in the following table.

Number of defendants found guilty at all courts for human trafficking offences(1), England and Wales, 2004-10

Number found guilty
2004     —
2005     12
2006     21
2007     23
2008(4)     24
2009     25
2010     16


Copyright © ECPAT UK 2015.

Charity number: 1104948. Company Ltd by Guarantee: 5061385.
4A Chillingworth Road, London N7 8QJ. 
Tel: 020 7607 2136. Fax: 020 7700 5435.


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ECPAT UK is the leading expert voice on child trafficking in the UK and we offer a comprehensive training programme focused on safeguarding young people from trafficking, modern slavery, and transnational abuse. To find out more visit our training page

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