U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

What the Professionals Know: The Trafficking of Children Into, and Through, the UK for Sexual Purposes

NCJ Number
Carron Somerset
Date Published
November 2001
This study, developed by the End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking (ECPAT) European Law Enforcement Group, sought to determine the situation in the trafficking of children for sexual purposes into and through the United Kingdom.
With no prior research having been conducted on the trafficking of children for sexual exploitation into the United Kingdom and limited information on Eastern European children, and previous research on trafficking typically centered on the trafficking of women rather than children, this study’s aim was to identify the facts on the trafficking of children of sexual exploitation into and through the United Kingdom. Each researcher on the project was responsible for undertaking a minimum of 15 interviews with members/professionals of organizations that fit into 3 categories: (1) officials (Immigration, police); (2) non-governmental organizations (child care and refugee organizations); and (3) observers (academics, journalists, lawyers). The report is divided into five sections. It begins by looking at the existing legislation and policy in relation to human trafficking and the sexual exploitation of children in the United Kingdom. Second, a review of existing literature is conducted on the trafficking of children for purposes of sexual exploitation as well as the trafficking of women and children. In the third section, the results of the interviews are presented bringing the professionals’ views on the trafficking of children into the United Kingdom. The fourth section focuses on case studies of trafficked children and the final section presents conclusions and recommendations for additional action based on the findings from the research. The trafficking of children into the United Kingdom for sexual purposes does exist. The United Kingdom is also used as a transit point for traffickers to take children through the United Kingdom to be forced into sexual exploitation elsewhere in Europe. The children are being brought into the United Kingdom through two distinct channels; the use of the asylum system and Social Services and the use of predominantly Eastern European females who are bought either by a boyfriend (one to one) or by Mafia (lots of girls at once). Recommendations that came about from this research fall into nine categories and included primary research, legislation, services, children in care, on arrival, awareness raising, communication and information exchange, implementation of good practice and training, and overseas. References and Appendices A and B