Human trafficking

Human trafficking is a horrendous crime. Victims are often forced or tricked into a situation from which there can appear to be no escape. They can be kidnapped, falsely imprisoned and raped.


If you have concerns that someone is being trafficked, call Devon and Cornwall Police on 101. You can also call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

If you have escaped form traffickers or you think someones life is in danger please call 999.

Watch now: Read the signs of forced labour (Crimestoppers film)

Human trafficking refers to the movement of people through force, fraud or deception with the intention of then exploiting them.

People are trafficked for one of the four main reasons.

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Forced labour
  • Domestic servitude
  • Organ harvesting

The first two categories are the most widespread in the UK.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Heavy security personnel at a location like a factory, farm or construction site
  • Barred windows, locked doors or electronic surveillance cameras
  • People living and working at the same address
  • Workers’ driven in between premises
  • People working in cramped and/or overcrowded conditions
  • People collected very early and/or returned late
  • Signs of malnourishment or looking unkempt
  • Inappropriate clothing for the work /lack safety equipment

What is the situation in Devon and Cornwall?

Within Devon and Cornwall there are a number of legitimate and illegitimate migrant workers who could be exposed to human trafficking due to their vulnerability and language difficulties.

The majority of those who are trafficked arrive into the UK overtly by air, rail, car and foot. Many will travel using their own legitimate documentation being unaware that they are, or are about to become, trafficking victims. Others will travel using false documentation.

Depending upon their country of origin the routes may differ, traffickers are only concerned with profit so usually choose the cheapest routes possible. It can take some migrants up to six months to reach the UK and they can incur massive debts.

However, it is not just migrants affected by human trafficking; other communities and groups maybe vulnerable.

Devon and Cornwall Police are fully supporting Operation Eagle, a national operation focussing on identifying the extent of human trafficking in the UK, rescuing and protecting victims and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

For more information about human trafficking, visit purple tear drop.


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