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Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Criminal Justice and Support for Victims) Act (Northern Ireland) 2015 came into effect on 15th January 2015. The act simplifies the offences of Human Trafficking and Slavery and introduces the offence of Forced Marriage and the new offence of paying for sexual services.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human Trafficking is simply described as “The movement of a person from one place to another into conditions of exploitation. It is entirely possible to be a victim of trafficking even if you have consented to being moved.”

Human Trafficking includes the following exploitation(s):

  • Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour
  • Sexual exploitation
  • Removal of Organs
  • Securing services etc. by force, threats or deception
  • Securing services from children, vulnerable people.

Victims of Human Trafficking may be controlled in the following manner:

  • Violence / fear of violence including physical or emotional abuse
  • Fear of reprisal on family
  • Financial abuse with wages being withheld or victim being “fined”
  • Debt bonded (owe money to controller for transport/accommodation etc.)
  • Fear and mistrust of authorities (deportation, arrest). 
Spot the signs of modern slavery. Is forced to work excessive hours with few breaks.

What are the signs of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking?

Here are few signs to look out for:

  • Movement of persons at strange times
  • Foreign nationals (workers not integrating)
  • Oblivious control (person speaking /translating for victim)
  • Poor living conditions (numerous occupants in single house)
  • Inappropriate clothing for place/conditions of work.
  • Seldom leave premises (accompanied by minder)
  • No documentation
  • Confused, frightened, distressed. 

Help and Support

  • Upon receipt of information about a potential victim of Human Trafficking, the Police Service of Northern Ireland will respond appropriately. We may take any or all of the following actions:

    • Remove victim to safe place
    • Task an interpreter if required
    • Record an initial account and gain consent for referral.
    • Refer victim details to the National Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) so victims can be supported by support groups through National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
    • Commence a criminal investigation  where appropriate.

    Human Trafficking is not Human Smuggling - it is the procurement, in order to obtain, directly or indirectly, a financial or other material benefit, of illegal entry of a person into a State Party of which the person is not a national or permanent resident.

  • If you recognise that it is happening to you or someone in your community, you can:

    • Report suspicions to police by phoning 101

    • Accept that victims are not to blame

    • Get help and support by contacting the police

    • Get advice about your legal rights and protection

  • The Police Service of Northern Ireland are here to help you.

    • We will investigate any incident and take action where there is sufficient evidence
    • We will protect victims of slavery or trafficking from immediate or future harm

    • We will give you information about criminal proceedings and how we will handle the situation

    • We will give you information on local support agencies who can help you

    The Police Service of Northern Ireland's Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit is part of C2 Serious Crime Branch, Specialist Investigation Unit led by D/Superintendent Rachel Shields. Located in Belfast, the unit is staffed by Detectives who are experienced and knowledgeable concerning the investigation of Human Trafficking and Exploitation.

  • Women's Aid

    Women's Aid is one of the local charities that are contracted by the Department of Justice to help support female victims of Human Trafficking.

    Migrant Help

    Migrant Help is one of the local charities that are contracted by the Department of Justice to help support male victims of Human Trafficking.

    Social Worker

    Social Services will provide practical assistance and guidance to Child victims of Human Trafficking. Find out more about contacting Social services on nidirect