Support for NHS staff to spot victims of human trafficking

NEW guidance making it easier for NHS staff to spot victims of human trafficking has been launched by the Department of Health.

Identifying and Supporting Victims of Human Trafficking: Guidance for Health Staff provides information to help staff identify potential victims of trafficking. The guidance details common physical and behavioural signs obvious in someone who may have been trafficked and offers advice on how to respond in a way that will not put the potential victim in further danger. It provides specific information on how to respond in suspected victims under age 18.

The guidance is intended to be relevant to a variety of healthcare settings, including A&E, primary care, sexual health services and genito-urinary medicine clinics.

Victims of human trafficking can be men, women or children brought from abroad against their will and forced to work or sexually exploited. Foreign nationals make up the majority of those who are trafficked but UK residents can also be trafficked around the country and abroad.

Last year, 1,186 potential victims of trafficking were identified through the UK’s victim support framework the National Referral Mechanism. This is an increase of 25 per cent compared to 2011 but many more could potential be helped if victims were better recognised.

Public Health Minister Anna Soubry said: "Human trafficking is abhorrent, and a form of slavery which causes misery and suffering to the thousands of victims and their families. Surgeries and hospitals are sometimes the only place where victims come into contact with people who care and are concerned for their welfare so it is vital that we make the most of these opportunities.

"I encourage all NHS staff to complete this training so they can save someone who is suffering from an unimaginably awful life."