Forced marriage and school holidays

As the school holidays approach and travel restrictions are lifted, there is a risk of children being taken abroad, and being forced to marry. Forced marriage is illegal.

We need to stay alert to Signs of children and young people being in potential danger of Forced Marriage. It is important to act quickly, without alerting family members or friends who may be part of the plans.

Find out how to get help

Support services for victims of trafficking

Trafficking is the

  • recruitment,
  • transportation,
  • transfer,
  • harbouring
  • or receipt of persons.

By means of:

  • the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion,
  • abduction,
  • fraud,
  • deception,
  • the abuse of power,
  • a position of vulnerability,
  • giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation shall include, at a minimum:

  • the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation,
  • forced labour or services,
    • slavery or practices similar to slavery, 
    • servitude
  • or the removal of organs.

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How do people become victims of trafficking?

The definition of human trafficking includes three elements;

  • first, that someone is recruited or moved
  • second, that the movement or recruitment happened because the victim was forced or tricked into believing they were going to be doing something else. Most victims have been offered something they want or need by a trafficker such as a good job or a loving relationship
  • the third element is that the person is exploited

Note: If the victim is a child, it is considered trafficking even if there is no threat or use of force.

What are the different types of exploitation?

Human trafficking includes:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Benefit fraud
  • Forced labour
  • Organ trafficking
  • Street crime
  • Drug trade
  • Forced marriage
  • Domestic servitude

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What is the difference between trafficking and smuggling?


  • Crime against the state
  • Relationship between smuggler and migrant ends after illegal border crossing and migrant has paid fees
  • Migrant’s consent to illegal border crossing is gained


  • Crime against the person
  • Exploitative relationship between victim and trafficker continues in order to maximise economic gains
  • Either no consent gained or initial consent deemed irrelevant due to force or coercion

The main differences between smuggling and trafficking are that migrants usually consent to being smuggled.

Traffickers generate money from the ongoing exploitation of their victims (smugglers only generate money from the movement and illegal entry, there is no further transaction).

Smuggling must involve illegally crossing a border. Trafficking does not have to involve crossing a border as it can also occur within a country (also known as internal trafficking).

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The National Referral Mechanism

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate protection and support.

Under the NRM if a professional believes that they have identified a victim of trafficking then they can refer that person to a Competent Authority (CA) to have their case assessed.  If the Competent Authority recognises that a woman is a victim of trafficking she is given rights that include accommodation and support.

Who can Refer?

Referrals can be made to the NRM by ‘First responders’ who should refer possible victims of trafficking to the Competent Authority who are based in UK Human Trafficking Centre (UKHTC).

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The following agencies are first responders:

The first responder will complete a referral form to pass the case to the CA. Referral to a CA is voluntary and can happen only if the potential victim gives their permission by signing the downloadable referral form.

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Support services

Support organisation

Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC)

Provides free guidance and training to professionals concerned that a child or young person has been or is about to be trafficked into or out of the UK.

  Monday to Friday, 8am to 10pm

Saturday and Sunday,

9am to 6pm

Tel: 0808 800 5000


Oline form

Missing People Helpline

Can be contacted 24 hours a day by anyone affected by the disappearance of a loved one or by those missing themselves.

Call or text 24/7

Tel: 116 000


Modern Slavery Helpline

Run by Unseen and works directly with survivors of modern slavery and trafficking through a number of different services. Ring the helpline to report a suspicion, get help or seek advice and information.

Available 24/7

Tel: 08000 121 7000

The Salvation Army

Their specialist support programme is designed to preserve the dignity of victims, protect and care for them in safe accommodation, and provide access to confidential client-based support services to give victims the space to reflect, recover and rebuild their lives.

Avaiable 24/7

Tel: 0300 303 8151 

Stop The Trafik

A movement of activists who work towards preventing trafficking. The website offers useful information on spotting the signs of trafficking and signposts to appropriate support.


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VAWG service directory

You can find lots of other useful services on the Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG) service directory homepage.