Modern slavery and human trafficking: Prevention, protecting victims and prosecution of offenders

These pages provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ for those whose work brings them into contact either directly or indirectly with the response to modern slavery and human trafficking.

Preventing human trafficking

The mainstay of the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit's (MSHTU) work will always be supporting the victims of trafficking and bringing to justice those responsible. But preventing the crime is just as important. Prevention efforts are therefore a key component of the MSHTU’s proactive strategy to reduce harm and protect victims of human trafficking.

Prevention is usually conducted in partnership with others and covers a broad range of activity, including:

  • Utilising all the relevant legislation at our disposal

  • Understanding the issues that impact on the supply and demand sides of human trafficking
  • Using innovative and non-traditional as well as traditional methods to disrupt traffickers and make it difficult for them to operate
  • Raising awareness of trafficking and trafficking methods amongst front line professionals, including law enforcement agencies, health and education, in the UK and overseas
  • Working closely with partner NGOs on specific prevention activities, both bilaterally and in larger working groups Raising awareness amongst potential victim populations
  • Raising public awareness in source, destination and transit countries through coordinated campaigns
  • Maximising the impact of preventative efforts through multi-agency partnership
  • Disseminating specific intelligence and alerts to the private and voluntary sectors

  • Playing an active role alongside law enforcement, government, industry bodies and NGOs in the UK Government Partnership Groups

Protecting victims of human trafficking

The MSHTU is a victim-focused organisation. The identification, recovery, support and, when appropriate, repatriation of human trafficking victims is at the core of everything it does.

Protection activity includes:

  • Working closely with partners across the public, private and voluntary sectors to support the provision of a full care, end-to-end programme for the victims of human trafficking
  • Providing expert Tactical Advisors who can offer real-time support and advice 24/7 on a variety of issues. These include tactical advice to police forces and Government agencies to support pre-planned operations, advice on the disruption and prosecution of identified offenders, and help in determining whether individuals may be trafficking victims.
  • Providing a central collection point for the National Referral Mechanism data, as one of the UK’s two Competent Authorities.
  • Recording, tracking and analysing all NRM referrals and the resulting decisions
  • Playing an active role alongside partners in the UK Government partnership groups

MSHTU tactical advisors

The MSHTU's team of expert Tactical Advisors provides 24/7, UK wide, real-time support in all human trafficking matters. This includes advice to first responders such as key NGOs, police forces and Government agencies in pre-planned operations, live advice in reactive investigations, help with the disruption and prosecution of identified offenders, best evidence and operational practice, victim care, and the NRM. They have the necessary experience to establish whether an individual may be a trafficked victim.


The MSHTU works with the UK and international law enforcement agencies to pursue and prosecute those responsible for human trafficking. In doing this the centre:

  • Collates, develops and shares innovative tactics, techniques, expertise and good practice
  • Develops high quality intelligence to help identify and fill knowledge gaps in the understanding of human trafficking crime
  • Draws on the wider resource afforded by being part of the National Crime Agency
  • Encourages and advises on the use of relevant legislation in holding traffickers to account
  • Provides support and advice to police forces and government agencies to help identify trafficking offences and potential victims
  • Plays a full role alongside the Police, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, UK Border Force and the Home Office Immigration and Enforcement in the UK Human Trafficking Law Enforcement forums.


In addition to the prosecution of traffickers as set out above, there is the option for victims to seek justice against their traffickers for the human rights and labour abuses they have endured by bringing a claim for financial compensation for the damage they have suffered.

There are four avenues through which a victim of trafficking might receive compensation:

  1. Compensation Orders following criminal proceedings
  2. Civil claims in the County Court or High Court
  3. Employment claims in the Employment Tribunal
  4. Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority claims

As a result of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012 and the subsequent amendments brought in by the Modern Slavery Act 2015, legal aid is available for claims for damages, and claims under employment law as a result of the exploitation of an individual (Options 2 & 3 above).

Further Information on how to make a claim:

For further information on the Government’s response to trafficking and modern slavery:


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