Human Trafficking

Human Trafficking and Exploitation

Human Trafficking is the illegal trade in human beings, both adults and children, for the purpose of commercial exploitation that sees people being forced into activities such as:

  • Prostitution and pornography;
  • Working in a range of sectors (e.g. agriculture, care, hospitality, construction) for no wages;
  • Criminal activity such as shoplifting, fraud and other petty crime;
  • Domestic servitude, undertaking childcare, housework, cooking etc.

Importantly, someone who is trafficked does not have to cross international borders. Trafficking can happen without someone leaving Scotland, or even leaving any town or city within Scotland. It is estimated that approximately 150 potential victims of trafficking were identified in Scotland in 2016.

Human Trafficking and Homelessness

A GHN seminar in January 2018 brought together almost 40 people working in homelessness services across Glasgow with key experts in human trafficking and exploitation: Police Scotland’s National Human Trafficking Unit; Community Safety Glasgow’s Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance (TARA) and Migrant Help.

The seminar identified that there are two main areas of overlap between human trafficking and homelessness:

  • Firstly, that people who are already vulnerable through experience of homelessness and other related issues such as mental ill health and addictions may be particularly targeted by traffickers who get to know local hostel accommodation and common rough sleeping sites. Traffickers will prey on people’s vulnerability, knowing they are often without support networks and close family and friends and are less likely to be ‘missed’ if people no longer see them locally;
  • Secondly, that people trafficked into or within the UK who have escaped their traffickers can end up rough sleeping and using homelessness services as they have nowhere else to go and no money for accommodation.

Staff attending the seminar learned more about signs that can suggest that someone they are working with might be a victim of trafficking, which may include someone:

  • Appearing withdrawn, showing signs of physical or psychological abuse;
  • Appearing to be under the influence of others, not allowed to travel anywhere on their own or interact with others;
  • Having few or no personal effects, including any kind of ID;
  • Being reluctant to seek help (e.g. lack of eye contact, hesitant to talk to strangers) out of fear of deportation or violence.

Responding to Human Trafficking and Exploitation

If anyone suspects that someone is, or has been, a victim of human trafficking a UK wide National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is in place to ensure they receive appropriate support, with TARA and Migrant Help funded to deliver the support in Scotland.

For further information contact:

Further Information

You can find out more about legislation to tackle Human Trafficking and Exploitation and the Scottish Government’s Strategy here. Also see the 2017 statistics.

You can read a recent news article on the cycle of homelessness and trafficking in the UK here.