Child trafficking is the practice of transporting children into, within and out of the UK for the purposes of exploitation.
Child victims of trafficking may have been brought to this country as unaccompanied foreign national children to commit criminal offences such as pickpocketing or cultivation of cannabis. Child victims of trafficking should not be prosecuted for criminal offences they have committed because they were trafficked.1
There is a statutory defence for child victims of trafficking and slavery under section 45 Modern Slavery Act 2015. A charge for an offence committed while being trafficked can alternatively also be stayed as an abuse of process (see abuse of process). Lawyers representing a child who has been trafficked should consider making a referral to the National Referral Mechanism. The definition of trafficking includes lots of different types of exploitation including being forced to sell or carry drugs for a gang which might be forced labour (county lines).
Read our YJLC Guide to Modern Slavery & County Lines.
Trafficked children often have no passport or identification and their age may be disputed by the police, the local authority or the court. If they say they are a child, they should be viewed as such until their age can be verified. See age assessment.
- 1. CPS Legal Guidance on Human Trafficking, Smuggling and Slavery