Human trafficking is a really difficult subject to tackle but it is a growing issue in recruitment and we wanted to use our blog to share some of the resources and best practices we’ve utilised here at Workforce to try to stamp this out.  Here’s a few tips and things to look out for:

Things to look out for when hiring 

  • Ask the candidate questions, how did they travel to the UK and find out who met them at the airport?  Do they seem to know this person?
  • Ask them who bought them to register with your agency?    
  • Ask the candidate to complete the Stronger Together questionnaire
  • Look out for anything unusual with their debit card. Gangs often put the pin number on the signature strip – so check the back of the card.

Red flags during the interview

  • If the candidate is brought in by somebody and they start to talk on behalf of the candidate, then this is a potential problem. You may want to investigate further and continue the rest of the registration in private and away from the chaperone.
  • If a candidate is given their documents (ie: passport and bank card) by somebody chaperoning them to register then this is a huge red flag! You need to look carefully at why the candidate doesn’t have their documents in their own possession.

Signs a colleague may be part of a trafficking gang

  • In our experience, victims of trafficking will be dropped off to work by somebody and will turn up in a large group.
  • They may not eat when on breaks because their money for food has been taken away by the gang.
  • Their appearance may be unkempt and they may look malnourished.  They may have lost weight quickly because they won’t have been given access to money for food.
  • Gangs often employ somebody who is ‘middle of the chain.’  This person may be used to keep other victims in line and will report back to the gang.  Their appearance may be improved compared to other victims, although they will still be controlled.  So watch out to see if there is somebody who appears to be exercising control over their colleagues. 

What we do:

  • We have really robust processes. Our systems can flag up any addresses that have been used many times. Any victims of trafficking are often moved around a lot, but the gang will use multiple houses time and time again.
  • We can also see if a mobile number has been registered against multiple candidates.  This is another red flag and a sign that somebody could be a victim of trafficking.
  • Because we invest so heavily on technology, our systems can pick up any discrepancies as our branch networks are all linked. This will make it harder for gangs to infiltrate victims across all of our branches.

We have a well educated team 

  • Exploitation is a huge issue unfortunately and our staff receive training as part of their induction and also regular, ongoing training to make sure that they know what to do if they suspect a candidate is being trafficked.
  • We have posters up in our branches and the Stronger Together questionnaire plus lots of leaflets and information in a variety of languages. There is also more information available on our website.

What to do if you suspect someone is being trafficked?

Branch Operations Director Trudy Harding is the lead for Hidden Labour Exploitation and Stronger Together Advocate at Workforce. She says:

“It’s really difficult to strike a balance between being vigilant and being paranoid. The tips above are a really good starting point – sometimes concerns have been raised and we’ve looked in to them and they have been unfounded, but sometimes we have reported cases to the West Midlands Police to investigate. Running checks against addresses and mobile phone records is a really good way to spot the signs and gather evidence if it’s required.”

“Human trafficking is an absolutely heart-breaking subject and through the training, I have seen some truly dreadful examples.  I hope that sharing this blog will help to educate recruiters on the signs of human trafficking so that we can all work together to make sure that it doesn’t happen any more.”

Other useful resources:

Workforce’s Hidden Workforce Policy.

Stronger Together

Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority

Association of Labour Providers

Recruitment and Employment Confederation