Human trafficking is modern day slavery. It includes people who have been forced into marriage and low paid labour, asylum seekers, and women or children trafficked into the sex industry, as well as children sold by their parents (e.g for benefit fraud or begging) or people sold for illegal organ donating.
In UK law, a trafficked person is defined as someone who has been transferred into, within or from the UK, with the intention of subjecting him/her to a form of exploitation. Trafficking occurs when there is an intention to exploit, whether or not the exploitation actually occurs. People who are trafficked have little choice in what happens to them and usually suffer abuse due to the threats and use of violence against them and/or their family.
In 2009 the Home Affairs Select Committee gave a conservative estimate that there are at least 5,000 victims of trafficking within the UK at any given time, although some estimates say there are at least 4,000 trafficked women working in the sex industry alone. The estimates of the number of people trafficked into the EU each year ranges from 100,000 to 800,000. Around 60 percent of suspected child victims of trafficking go missing from local authority care and are not subsequently found. There is evidence to show that traffickers are, in effect, using the UK’s care system as a ‘holding pen’ for their victims until they are ready to pick them up.
Human trafficking is the fastest growing international crime and the second largest source of illegal income worldwide – second only to the drugs trade. We know that people are trafficked into and across the UK and many end up being forced to work or live in London – including the London Borough of Merton.