facts and stats

Trafficking: The Current Situation

26/11/2014 7:50 pm

Bar Graph - Number of Victims, Country of Origin, Type of Exploitation (2014)

Human trafficking now ranks as the second most profitable worldwide criminal enterprise after the illegal arms trade.

The International Labour Organisation estimates that 2.4 million people are trafficked globally and that annual profits from trafficking in human beings are as high as $32 billion.

The most recent report from the United Nation Office of Drugs and Crime has revealed that millions of people are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labour. The report claims that victims originate from at least 136 different nationalities, have been detected in 118 countries, and the majority are women, though the percentage of children is increasing. Those exploited can be found in the world's restaurants, fisheries, brothels, farms and homes, among other places.

Trafficking for sexual exploitation accounts for well over half of all trafficking cases detected globally. Other illegal purposes detected in 2010 include begging, forced marriage, black market adoption, participating in armed combat and committing crimes. However, of all the 132 countries covered in the report, 16 percent did not record a single conviction for human trafficking between 2007 and 2010. Bribery and corruption are the likely reasons.

The report “It Happens Here” published by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) in March 2013 established that more than 1,000 trafficking victims were found in the previous year, including a significant number of British children. While these estimated figures appear shocking as they are, they represent only a small proportion due to a shambolic identification system.

The CSJ investigation discovered a litany of cases where adults and children are trafficked into and within the UK and subjected to – forced labour, sexual exploitation (British girls trafficked for this made up nearly one half of all UK slavery victims in 2011), domestic servitude and forced criminality (which includes benefit fraud, forced begging or pick-pocketing and drug cultivation).

"Numerous victims of modern slavery", the report states, "are prosecuted for offences they have committed as a result of being trafficked. This may include immigration offences or, in cases where Vietnamese people, often minors, are trafficked into the UK to work in one of the thousands of cannabis farms, drugs offences."

Despite these abuse levels widespread ignorance exists among police, social workers and immigration officers about the scale and nature of human trafficking. The CSJ calls for far more rigorous training of professionals.

According to the most recent Strategic Assessment of the Nature and Scale of Human Trafficking published in 2014 by the National Crime Agency found:

  • 2,744 people (including 602 children) were potential victims of trafficking for exploitation in 2013 - an increase of 22 per cent on 2012
  • Romania was the most common country of origin for victims and Poland was the most likely nation for labour trafficking
  • Increasingly online dating, social media sites and advertising of jobs on the internet were used to recruit victims.

With all-party support, the Modern Slavery Bill is one of the first of its kind in the world. It will give extra powers to police and other agencies to prevent and detect suspected trafficking and appoint a new Anti-Slavery Commissioner to co-ordinate cross departmental Government working so they can focus their response and facilitate mandatory reporting of trafficking cases to a central point.

It will also give extra protection to alleged victims and make it far easier for them to give evidence. Convicted perpetrators of slavery offences will be subject to stiffer penalties, including life sentences and the confiscation of assets from which they can be made to give reparation to victims.

One of the Bill’s most important measures will end the terrible dilemma faced by many victims of modern slavery – of being obliged to convict them-selves in order to incriminate their slave-masters – by granting them immunity.


The Catholic Church's response to this modern-day slavery is the Bakhita Initiative. Find out more here:

Bakhita Initiative


Bakhita Initiative

traffick-booklet-28052015.pdf 1.71 MB

A 10-page PDF booklet giving you detailed information on the Bakhita Initiative - the Catholic Church's response to human trafficking.