Human trafficking for forced labour – what response do we want?

Human trafficking is a serious crime and a violation of human rights. Victims are coerced, lured into or threaten to perform work that they cannot refuse. They are threaten with violence, abuse, reporting to the police, often manipulated to petty crime to keep them terrified and obedient. Their documents are taken away. They are forced to work 16 hours a day and more. They live in appalling conditions – in basements, shipping containers, trucks. Being paid doesn’t change a thing, especially if this payment if £1 per hour or less. If they can’t leave, they are slaves. Modern slavery is a fact.

EU co-funded project PRO-ACT has been looking to improve responses to trafficking for labour exploitation throughout the EU, by developing effective EU-wide strategies for proactive identification and support of victims. If you would like to know more about the project, contact Focus on Labour Exploitation (UK lead partner). We have contributed to this work by giving feedback and opinions of what would work and what could be improved.

PRO-ACT concentrates on five strategies:

  1. Access to information, improved detection and remedies
  2. Improved access to expert legal advice and redress
  3. Empowering support based on the needs of trafficked persons
  4. Tailored and diverse psychological assistance
  5. Supporting access to benefits and appropriate employment

Strategies 1 – 4 were piloted and during the second European Workshop held in London on 20 and 21 April 2016 we learnt outcomes of these pilot provisions. Plain-English summary of strategies is available in this document >>> PRO-ACT strategies

We have been providing activities that are recommended as proactive methods of identification and support of victims of trafficking for forced labour. We have been:

  1. providing outreach via peer educators to Eastern European workers to raise awareness of their rights
  2. providing tailored individual information and advice to support potential victims to reflect on their situation and decide whether they want to break free from forced labour
  3. supporting victims’ access to reporting this crime and to national support mechanisms

We are currently working on an improved approach to help our fellow expats out of forced labour. We are looking at:

  • community involvement in proactive identification of victims of forced labour
  • targeted information campaign aiming at potential victims of forced labour, their colleagues, relatives and friends
  • advice to detected victims and support to access services for identified victims
  • dedicated employability and welfare advice for victims

We need your help! Please let us know your views and opinions – what do you think should be done? Do you have any experiences in working with Eastern European victims of forced labour or exploitation or at risk? Do you have experiences of forced labour? Or do you know anyone who was or has been? Email us on