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Call for Evidence

Human Trafficking

The Home Affairs Committee is launching an inquiry into Human Trafficking.  The deadline for submitting written evidence is midnight on Friday 17 March 2023.  Please note, your submission does not need to address every question in the terms of reference.

Terms of Reference

1. What is the scale and nature of human trafficking in the UK? Considering in particular:

a) Different types of exploitation (including sexual, labour, or criminal exploitation),

b) The profile of victims and perpetrators,

c) The gendered aspects of human trafficking,

d) The role of technology in facilitating human trafficking.

2. How effective is the UK’s approach to discouraging the demand that leads to trafficking?

3. To what extent do support services meet the needs of victims who have been trafficked in or to the UK?

4. What evidence is there, if any, that the National Referral Mechanism process is being exploited by individuals seeking asylum in the UK?

5. How can legislation, including the Modern Slavery Act 2015, policy and criminal justice system practice be improved to prevent and address human trafficking?


Human Trafficking involves the recruitment, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people, with the purpose of exploitation for profit. Four main categories of exploitation have been defined by the Home Office as Labour exploitation, Sexual exploitation, Domestic servitude, and Criminal exploitation, as defined by the Palermo Protocol and by the Home Office. It is incredibly difficult to estimate the number of people being trafficked for exploitation in the UK, however, in 2021 the Home Office received 12,727 referrals for potential victims into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). The majority of potential victims were adults, where labour exploitation was most commonly reported by adult men (41%; 1,978), whilst adult women most commonly reported sexual exploitation (36%; 580), or a combination of sexual and another type of exploitation (19%; 299).

Both the Office for National Statistics and former Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner acknowledged that these numbers are likely under-reporting the current issue. Charities (Salvation Army and Unseen) that provide support for potential victims of modern slavery reported that in 2021, 54-57% of female victims who accessed their service reported sexual exploitation, whilst 62-65% of male victims reported labour exploitation.  This consistent gender difference in human trafficking has led to international groups calling for gender-specific approaches to trafficking and exploitation, to better suit the needs of victims and improve prevention for vulnerable groups.

The UK has multiple legal and intergovernmental obligations to discourage the demand that fosters trafficking for sexual exploitation. These obligations arise from: the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children (‘Palermo Protocol’); the Council of Europe Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings; the OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings; and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its General recommendation No. 38 on trafficking in women and girls in the context of global migration. 

Victims of human trafficking in the UK are often not UK nationals, with recruitment often starting in another country. The Government recently raised concern that migrants may be abusing the NRM process, in order to claim asylum. However, the evidence for this appears contradictory, as data from the Home Office suggests that 86-88% of individuals referred into the NRM, many of whom were migrants, were believed to be victims of modern slavery.

Important information about making a submission

Written evidence must address the terms of reference as set out above, but please note that submissions do not have to address every point. Guidance on giving evidence to a select committee of the House of Commons is available on the website.

Submissions on the terms of reference set out above should be received by 12 midnight on Friday 17 March 2023.

If your submission is accepted by the Committee, it will usually be published online. It will then be available permanently for anyone to view. It can’t be changed or removed. If you have included your name or any personal information in your submission, that will normally be published too. Please consider how much personal information you want or need to share.

If you would like to ask the Committee to accept your submission anonymously (meaning it will be published but without your name), or confidentially (meaning it won't be published at all), you can make this request when you upload your submission.

Please note that the Committee can only formally consider submissions which have been written specifically for its inquiry. This means that reproduced material which has already been published elsewhere will be treated as background information; the submission will be shared with the Committee but it will not be accepted or published as written evidence. If you wish to share material with the Committee which has already been published elsewhere, you may do so by emailing it to

If you have any questions, please contact

In line with the general practice of select committees the Home Affairs Committee is not able to take up individual cases. If you would like political support or advice you may wish to contact your local Member of Parliament.

Decisions about publishing evidence anonymously, or about accepting but not publishing evidence, are made by the Committee. 

The Committee has discretion over which submissions it accepts as evidence, and which of those it then publishes on its website. We may anonymise or redact some of your submission if it is published. The Committee may decide to accept evidence on a confidential basis. Confidential submissions remain available to the Committee but are not published or referred to in public. All written evidence will be considered by the Committee, whether or not it is published.

If your evidence raises any safeguarding concerns about you, or other people, then the Committee has a duty to raise these with the appropriate safeguarding authority.

If you have immediate safeguarding concerns about yourself or someone else, you should contact the Police on 999.

We can’t publish submissions that mention ongoing legal cases – contact us if you are not sure what this means for you.

Submissions on the terms of reference set out above should be received by 12 midnight on Friday 17 March 2023.

If you wish to submit evidence after this time, please email for more information.


We understand that the issues raised in this work may be sensitive or upsetting. If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this inquiry, you may wish to contact your GP or the following organisations:

Samaritans  Support and guidance for everyone.  Call: 116 123 - 24 hours a day, every day or Email

Mind For information, advice, and support for anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Call: 0300 123 3393

If you suspect that you or someone else has been a victim of trafficking or modern slavery, contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or call the Salvation Army confidential 24/7 referral helpline on 0800 808 3733 which provides specialist support for all adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales.

For further support services see: Support Services - Human Trafficking Foundation

To submit evidence click on the start button.


This call for written evidence has now closed.

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