Signs of Child Trafficking & Modern Slavery

For more information on Child Trafficking and Modern Slavery and their effect on children, click here.

Knowing the signs of child trafficking and modern slavery can help give a voice to children. A child might not be aware that they are being trafficked and might not speak out.

Any child could be a victim of trafficking and modern slavery. Identifying a child who has being trafficked is difficult as they are often intentionally isolated from services and from communities who could identify and protect them. It is important to remember that warning signs will be presented differently for each child or young person being trafficked.

It might not be obvious that a child has been trafficked, but signs could include:

  • Rarely leaving the house
  • Living apart from family or having limited social contact with friends and family
  • Living somewhere inappropriate, like a work address or cramped, unhygienic or overcrowded accommodation, including caravans, sheds, tents or outbuildings
  • Being seen in inappropriate places (for example factories or brothels)
  • Having their movements controlled or being unable to travel on their own
  • Lacking personal items
  • Consistently wearing the same clothes
  • Not being registered with a school or a GP practice
  • Having money or things you wouldn’t expect them to have
  • Being moved by others between specific locations (e.g. to and from work), which may happen at unusual times such as very early in the day or at night
  • Being unsure, unable, or reluctant to give details such as where they live
  • Fearful or withdrawn behaviour
  • Being involved in gang activity
  • Being involved in the consumption, sale or trafficking of drugs
  • Having their communication controlled by somebody else and acting as though they are being instructed by another person
  • Tattoos or other marks indicating ownership
  • Physical ill health, looking unkempt or malnourished
  • Physical injury, including the kinds of injuries you might get from a workplace
  • Reluctance to seek help, avoidance of strangers, being fearful or hostile towards authorities
  • Providing a prepared story (which might be similar to stories given by other children) or struggling to recall experiences
  • Inconsistent accounts of their experiences

Click here for NSPCC’s information and guidance on child trafficking.

Click here for the Pan Sussex Procedure on Child Trafficking and Modern Slavery.


If you are concerned about a child, please contact Front Door For Families on 01273 290400, FrontDoorForFamilies@brighton-hove.gov.uk, or use their Online Referral Form.

If a child is in immediate danger, you should contact the police by calling 999.