What to do if you've been trafficked
If you’ve been forced to work for little or no pay in a job you can’t leave, you might be a victim of human trafficking.
Human trafficking is also known as modern slavery or exploitation.
You can be trafficked to do lots of things, eg to work in people’s homes, in manual jobs such as construction and farming, or into prostitution.
If you think you’re a victim of human trafficking
Call the police by dialling 999.
You haven’t done anything wrong. It’s important to know that:
the police will help you
you’ll be protected from anyone you think might hurt you
you don’t have to give evidence in court unless you choose to
How to tell if you’ve been trafficked
While every case of trafficking is different, there are signs you can look out for if something doesn’t feel right about your situation.
Promise of a better life
You can be trafficked by someone you’ve met in person or online.
They might have:
brought you to work from another country, though you can be trafficked within the UK
promised you a good job or a relationship
Being forced to work
You might have been trafficked if you’ve been:
forced to work very long hours
paid very little, or nothing at all
forced to have sex with people
Having your freedom taken away
Your traffickers might have stopped you leaving by:
taking away your passport
claiming you owe them money, perhaps for travel or accommodation
accompanying you wherever you go
threatening to hurt you
You can be trafficked by people you trust
Joy came to the UK when she was twelve to help her aunt and go to school. Instead of going to school, she had to work long hours in the house. At 15, Joy was sent to work for her aunt’s friend, who would slap her when she did something wrong. The friend's husband would sometimes abuse her. Joy couldn’t find her passport, but eventually left the house and found support through a charity.
Source: Rights of Women, May 2014
After you call the police
The police will take you somewhere safe, away from your trafficker.
If you’re a victim of trafficking you’ll have at least 4 weeks to recover without needing to arrange a visa to stay in the UK. During this time you’ll get help finding somewhere to live. You’ll also get emotional support such as counselling if you need it. You won’t have to pay for any of this help.
The police will investigate the people who trafficked you. You’ll get support and protection if you want to give evidence against them in court.
You’ll get help to return home if it’s safe for you to go back. If returning would put you at risk of being trafficked again, you’ll get help applying to stay in the UK permanently. You might be able to get free legal help (called legal aid) for this.
If you have to go to court or need more time to recover, you’ll get help to apply for temporary permission to stay in the UK. You can get benefits and help with housing if you get permission to stay.
Check what other help you can get on GOV.UK.
If you don’t want to talk to the police
It’s ok if you don’t want to speak to the police - you can contact a charity who help victims of trafficking.
Call The Salvation Army’s confidential helpline for victims of human trafficking on 0800 808 3733. The helpline is open 24 hours a day.
You’ll get help leaving your situation when you’re ready, and building a life afterwards.
If you want to talk to someone in person, go to your local Citizens Advice. They’ll give you advice on what to do next, and put you in touch with expert support in your area.
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Page last reviewed on 22 February 2020