Perpetrators use a range of methods to recruit their victims:

  • Grooming by befriending their victims (can be romantically) and giving them a false sense of belonging
  • Using recruitment agencies (both unknowing legitimate agencies and agencies that use recruitment as a cover)
  • Approaching victims promising a better life
  • Some victims may be sold to perpetrators by their family
  • Non-existent job adverts – internet, newspapers and shop windows
  • Providing them with free drugs and alcohol as an initial inducement

Perpetrators then use varying methods to control their victims:

  • Threats – against themselves or their family
  • Psychological intimidation e.g. being told that if they don’t comply, they will be exposed to the authorities as illegal immigrants.
  • Debt bondage – making them pay back a ‘debt’ they owe the perpetrator e.g. for their travel, accommodation, food etc – often taking all their wages in payment
  • Physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement
  • Kept in isolation and contact with family and the outside world prevented
  • Passports, other identity documents, money, access to monies and pay are withheld
  • Emotional/pyschological or physical abuse or violence to exercise control
  • Refused access to basic human rights – food, clothing and warmth
  • Abduction
  • Kept compliant with access to/forced to take drugs and alcohol

Victims are often hidden away, may be unable to leave their situation. They may fear their employer or may not come forward because of shame.

Victims who are trafficked into the UK are often brainwashed into believing that, if they fall into the hands of the authorities, they will be treated badly, imprisoned, and deported. This creates a deep distrust of police, social care and other agencies and they may not want to talk to the authorities.

Exploitation can take multiple forms, and people can be manipulated and controlled in various ways. It is essential to understand that there may be no clear distinction between the exploitation types.

Case Study video -