Some 240 young people, thought to have been snatched by human traffickers for the purpose of sexual and other forms of exploitation, were referred to UK law enforcement authorities in the third quarter of 2015.
The National Crime Agency (NCA), Britain’s version of the FBI, uncovered the damning findings in a report published last month.
The figures were unearthed by the agency’s national referral mechanism (NRM), which notifies UK authorities of possible trafficking victims who are stranded and enslaved on British soil.
The report covers referrals recorded between July and September 2015. It consists of a series of tables that outline key details about the suspected trafficking victims such as nationality, age, gender and the type of exploitation they were targeted for.
The NCA lists sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, organ harvesting and other forms of exploitation as being most prominent.
Its report defines children and youths under the age of 19 as “minors.” Below is a list of the report’s findings concerning these young people.
Some 220 minors found in England were referred to the NCA by government agencies, NGOs and police. The NCA’s report found 17 were suspected victims of domestic servitude, 55 were suspected victims of labor exploitation and one was a suspected target for organ harvesting. A further 90 were thought to have been targeted for an unspecified form of exploitation.
Out of the 220 minors, 49 were believed to have come from Vietnam, 42 were thought to have come from Albania and a further 31 were thought to have been trafficked from elsewhere in the UK. Nigeria, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Czech Republic also featured high on the list.
In the case of Northern Ireland, two minors suspected of being trafficking victims were referred to the NCA. One came from Syria, the other from Poland. Both males, one was believed to have been snatched for the purpose of labor exploitation. The NCA was unable to discern why the other had been targeted. Both had been referred to the NCA by local authorities in Belfast.
A total of 16 minors based in Scotland were referred to the NCA. They were believed to have come from Vietnam (9), China (2), Eritrea (1), Nigeria (1), Somalia (1) and Albania (1). The NCA’s report found three were likely targeted for the purpose of domestic servitude, six for labor exploitation, three for sexual exploitation, and four for an unknown reason.
Two minors based in Wales were flagged to the NCA. One hailed from Mauritius, while the other was believed to be from Spain. Both were male. The Home Office referred one to the law enforcement agency, while Cardiff Council referred the other.
The NRM was introduced in 2009, with the aim of providing suspected victims of trafficking with the support they are entitled to receive under European and International Law. Victims are usually referred to one of two British authorities: the Home Office UK Visas and Immigration Department, and the National Crime Agency UK Human Trafficking Center.
The referral process is twofold. In the first phase, investigators work to discern if there are reasonable grounds to believe the individual in question was trafficked. In the second, a conclusive decision is made. Throughout the course of each phase, specially trained staff consider all information available before drawing conclusion.
The NCA’s report is based wholly on data uncovered by the NRM. While the figures related to potential trafficking victims, they offer an unsettling insight into the way in which sex slavery, domestic servitude and other forms of exploitation are all too common in Britain.
While no key cause for the high number of referrals was outlined in the NCA’s report, children’s charities say many trafficked youngsters in Britain have come from refugee camps, including the Calais ‘Jungle.’
Official statistics from the NCA revealed that over 2,000 possible trafficking victims were brought to the attention of UK authorities in 2014. Of these, 244 came from Nigeria – a 31 percent increase on the previous year.
Sex slavery has become a global business and the source of huge profits for criminal syndicates. Many slaves in Britain are isolated from society, brutally exploited, forced to subsist in filthy or cramped accommodation and endure heavily restricted movement. Because trafficking networks are notoriously fluid and adaptable, they often evade detection. Although governments across Europe have attempted to tackle sex traffickers, their successes remain limited.