National Referral Mechanism Statistics UK, 3rd Quarter 2020 – July to September

The UK Home Office has published the most recent Modern Slavery Statistics, covering quarter 3 of 2020 (July – September).

Home Office reports that 2,506 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the NRM. 1,224 (29%) of the NRM referrals claimed exploitation as adults whilst 1,159 (46%) claimed exploitation as children. For 5% of the referral their age at exploitation was unknown.

Overall, of the 2,506 potential victims referred in this quarter, 74% (1,853) were male and 26% (647) were female; these proportions are similar to the previous quarter. For adult potential victims, 69% (849) were male and 31% (374) were female, whilst for child potential victims, 79% (912) were male and 21% (242) were female.

The statistics flag the issue of ‘county lines’ exploitation of children – with 401 referrals flagged as county lines referrals, accounting for 16% of all referrals received in the quarter. The majority (82%; 328) of these referrals were made for male children.

UK, Albanian and Vietnamese citizens remain the most common nationalities referred to the NRM.

For detailed statistics please see the government website here. 

National Referral Mechanism Statistics UK, 1st Quarter 2020 – January to March

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is the UK framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support. This statistical bulletin gives a summary and breakdown of the number of potential victims of modern slavery referred into the National Referral Mechanism from 1 January to 31 March 2020 (quarter 1).

Follow this link for the NRM Statistics UK, Quarter 1 2020 – January to March.

Prevalence of Minors in Kathmandu’s Adult Entertainment Sector

A report released last year by the Freedom Fund and John Jay College gives some of the first reliable estimates in relation to how many children are involved in the adult entertainment industry in Kathmandu. It has always been known that a significant number of young people and children work in the adult entertainment industry in Kathmandu, but until recently no reliable estimates existed as to the true scale of the problem.

The study found that approximately 1650 young people under the age of 17 are working in the adult entertainment industry, making up approximately 17% of those working in the industry. The study also found 62% of workers were working in the industry before the age of 18. The majority of underage workers in the adult entertainment industry were found to be working in sexually exploitative environments and 99% were considered to be held in the worst forms of child slavery as defined by the International Labour Organisation’s convention.

The full study can be found here.

Ending Forced Labour by 2030: A Review of Policies and Programmes

In 2016 a report by the International Labour Organisation found that on any given day there were around 25 million people subjected to forced labour, of which just over 4 million people were below the age of 18. This report by the ILO looks back on the targets set by the international community to end forced labour by 2030 and ensure that child labour had been eradicated by 2025, and aims to guide policy and procedure in the lead up to these key dates. The report is split into three sections:

  1. Key numbers relating to global modern slavery and the ways in which it may manifest.
  2. Ending forced labour through the 2014 forced labour protocol: which is broken into 4 key parts; Prevention, Protection, Remedies, and Enforcement.
  3. and, Ending forced labour in children and adults: looking forward to 2030 and 2025.

These sections identify the background and key information surrounding modern slavery, the current international instruments, and makes suggestions for ensuring that the targets are met.

The report can be found here.

Europol report: Criminal Networks Involved in the Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in the European Union, October 2018

The report, Criminal Networks Involved in the Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in the European Union analyses data from Europol’s action against child trafficking between 2015 – 2017. The importance of this analysis into child trafficking reflects minors being an extremely vulnerable sector of society. Children are often lured into labour or sexual exploitation, and as a result suffer severe physical and psychological damage. This report provides key information that highlights limitations in current systems, that can be used to create a strategy against future trafficking of children.

Key findings from the report:

  • Child trafficking in the EU Trafficking and exploitation of male minors (especially for sexual exploitation) still remains an under-reported phenomenon at EU level.
  • Traffickers active in the EU target underage victims mainly for sexual exploitation but also labour exploitation, to beg and to commit criminal acts, such as pickpocketing and shoplifting. Children are also trafficked for illegal adoption and sham marriages.
  • Children are trafficked from around the world to the EU. The majority of nonEU networks reported to Europol involved Nigerian OCGs which traffic female minors and women to be sexually exploited. The OCGs are spread along the entire trafficking route and operate in several EU Member States.
  • The majority of EU trafficking networks for child sexual exploitation reported to Europol are small in size (usually fewer than five key suspects) and active in one country at a time.
  • Particularly harmful EU networks are large family clans which mainly traffic children for the purpose of begging, forced criminality and sexual exploitation. These clans operate in several countries at the same time and rotate victims on a regular basis.
  • Children in migration and unaccompanied minors are at higher risk of trafficking and exploitation. Although the scale of trafficking of unaccompanied minors remains unknown, a future increase is expected.


For the full report Criminal Networks Involved in the Trafficking and Exploitation of Underage Victims in the European Union, October 2018, read here.

FREEDOM FUND REPORT: Minors in Kathmandu’s Adult Entertainment Sector: What’s driving demand?

Freedom Fund’s research follows on from a 2010 report with findings showing one third of girls working Kathmandu’s adult entertainment sector. The commercial sexual exploitation of children is reported in alarmingly high statistics where massage parlours, dance bars, cabin restaurants and guest houses and across the wider hospitality industry are used as fronts to allow the behaviour. Their recent 2018 research seeks to explore the root of the issue in the demand for child sexual exploitation. It concludes that while there is common understanding amongst those involved in the industry that sex with children is unacceptable, there are cultural factors and historical narratives that excuses their behaviour. This report highlights the issues with this status quo and challenges such moral norms to guide policy and regulatory action against this demand.

For the full October 2018 Freedom Fund Report: ‘Minors in Kathmandu’s adult entertainment sector: What’s driving demand?’ read here.

EUROPOL REPORT: Criminal networks involved in the trafficking and exploitation of underage victims in the EU 2018

Europol’s latest report follows as human trafficking is a crime priority in the 2018 – 2021 EU Policy Cycle. Notably, Europol reports that approximately 28 percent of global trafficking victims are children, who are preyed on as they are one of the most vulnerable and weak social sectors. In the EU, traffickers target minors primarily for sexual exploitation, also labour exploitation and forced criminality. A prominent issue is the lack of reporting around male minors trafficked or exploited within the EU.

The aim is to disrupt organised crime groups (OCGs) involved in intra-EU human trafficking and human trafficking from the most prevalent external source countries for the purposes of labour exploitation and sexual exploitation, including those groups using legal business structures to facilitate or disguise their criminal activities.

For the full October 2018 report ‘Criminal networks involved in the trafficking and exploitation of underage victims in the EU’, read here.

Victim, Not Criminal – Trafficked Children and the Non-Punishment Principle in the UK

UNICEF’s report Victim, Not Criminal analyses the current legal framework concerning non-punishment of child victims of human trafficking involved in forced criminality. The report critiques the implementation of the Section 45 slavery defence and provides recommendations for change. Key recommendations include:

  • „The reasonable person test relating to the statutory defence in Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act should no longer apply to children „
  • Mechanisms are put in place by the prosecuting agencies and government to properly monitor the implementation of the non-punishment principle across the UK „
  • Further training and awareness-raising is made available for police, prosecutors, judges, legal representatives and relevant practitioners on the protections from prosecution available for trafficked children.


For the full report Victim, Not Criminal – Trafficked Children and the Non-Punishment Principle in the UK, read here. 

Non-Punishment of Victims of Human Trafficking

It is common that victims of human trafficking will be exploited by their traffickers through forced criminality. The Council Of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings and directive states that  “Each Party shall, in accordance with the basic principles of its legal system, provide for the possibility of not imposing penalties on victims for their involvement in unlawful activities, to the extent that they have been compelled to do so.” 
Article 26, Council of Europe Convention on Action Against Trafficking in Human Beings. The UK’s Modern Slavery Legislation advanced the non-punishment framework by implementing a statutory slavery defence. Throughout England and Wales over the last decade there have been a significant number of cases before the Court of Appeal involving victims of human trafficking and forced criminality who have had their convictions successfully overturned.

The current leading cases are as follows:

  • R v O [2008] EWCA Crim 2835
  • LM &Ors [2010] EWCA 2327 [LM]
  • R v N and R v Le [2012] EWCA Crim 189 [N and Le]
  • THN, T, HVN and L [2013] EWCA Crim 991 [THN]
  • R v O [2011] EWCA Crim 2226 [O 2011]
  • R v LZ [2012] EWCA Crim 1867 [LZ]
  • R v VSJ et all [2017] EWCA Crim 36

Modern Slavery Act 2015 

CPS Guidance on Human Trafficking

COE Trafficking Convention 

Trafficking for Forced Criminal Activities and Begging in Europe, Exploratory Study and Good Practice Examples

The report, Trafficking for Forced Criminal Activities and Begging in Europe, Exploratory Study and Good Practice Examples firstly details one of the inaugural case studies analysing the field of trafficking for forced criminal activities and begging in Europe between 2013-2014. The second part of this report provides a practical guide intended for front line professionals including police, lawyers, NGOs, prosecutors and social workers to assist in complex human trafficking cases involving forced criminality.

For the full 2014 report by Anti-Slavery International, read here.