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How Background Checks Can Help in the Fight Against Human Trafficking

What is Human Trafficking?  

Human Trafficking is an unfortunate but prevalent part of our society. It involves the exploitation of vulnerable men, women and children in already dire circumstances.   

Trafficking is a highly organised, international operation run by criminal syndicates. Many of the victims of trafficking are fleeing warzones and persecution in hopes of a better life. In most cases, these victims end up in degrading, and often dangerous, ‘jobs’.  

The exact figures for victims of this type of crime are hotly debated and quoted figures aren’t truly representative of the scale of these operations. What we do know is that the most commonly trafficked nationalities are Vietnamese, British and Albanian 

Employers using agency workers are uniquely placed to spot this type of crime.  


How can background screening help?  

If you are a recruitment manager engaging the services of an agency, background checks are essential.   

Before employing anyone through any agency, appropriate research should be done into their background. Establishing they are a legitimate company, registered with relevant regulatory bodies is a quick task but could save you from an expensive lawsuit later on!  

If you do contract an agency for staff, it is still your responsibility to check any staff have the right to work in the UK. To be able to do this, you need to see relevant ID documentation to prove they are legally entitled to work. The government offer full guidance on how to do this here 

If agency workers are unable to produce this documentation, it is definitely cause for concern. This can be one of the warning signs of trafficking.  


What are the signs?  

There are a number of different red-flags that may mean an agency worker is a victim of trafficking. We’ve listed a few below:   

  • Is the person in possession of their passport or ID? Or does someone else possess it?  
  • Does the person act as if they were instructed or coached by someone else? Do they allow others to speak for them when spoken to directly?  
  • Was the person recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job?   
  • Have transport costs been paid for by facilitators, whom they must pay back through working or providing services?  
  • Is someone else in control of their earnings?  
  • Does the victim have freedom of movement?  
  • Is the person withdrawn or do they appear frightened?  
  • Has the person been physically or emotionally harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or other life necessities?  



Any responsible member of society is rightly concerned about the dangers of human trafficking. Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to employers to help educate staff in recognising the signs of trafficking.  

The Crown Prosecution Service have comprehensive guidance surrounding the legislation in this area. As with any UK legislation, it is extremely complicated but it is a vital document to understand, you can find it here. 

The Home Office has produced a document called, ‘Human Trafficking Practical Guidance’, which you can find here. Modern Slavery is often closely associated with human trafficking, which is why the Home Office also recommend this guidance, for frontline staff.  

The Citizens Advice Bureau also have a page dedicated to helping people find the right method of reporting any concerns. You can find this info here 


For more information about anything in this article, or, how our screening solutions can help you, get in touch! You can give us a call on 01254 355688 or drop us an email at [email protected] 


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