The numbers of children that have been trafficked for the purposes of criminal exploitation have not always been very clear. Criminal exploitation has not always been clearly identified within Modern Slavery Statistics. In 2012, the UK Human Trafficking Centre's (UKHTC) baseline assessment identified the most common types of criminal exploitation in Great Britain have been in cannabis cultivation and petty street crime (Anti-Slavery International, 2014).
2255 “potential victims of trafficking” were identified in the UKHTC Baseline Assessment. Of this number of people, 549 (24%) were children and the age of 99 (5%) of potential victims was unknown.
Of these potential victims, 362 (16%) were identified as being trafficked for the purposes of criminal exploitation, including benefit fraud. 323 (66%) of potential victims were male, 85 (21%) were female and the gender of 45 (13%) of potential victims was unknown. 209 (58%) of them were adults and children accounted for 132 (36%) of the potential victims. The age of 21 (6%) of victims was not known.
Of the 362 potential victims who reported having been criminally exploited, 58% (209 potential victims) stated they had been subjected to benefit or financial exploitation. Of these, 138 (66%) were Polish adults. The next most prevalent country of origin of potential victims exploited in this way was Slovakia with 36 (10%), 33 (92%) of whom were children.
Cannabis cultivation was the next most prevalent subtype followed by theft. A range of other criminal exploitation types included begging, selling counterfeit DVDs, and smuggling cigarettes. Of those potential victims trafficked for cannabis cultivation, 56 (81%) were children.
In 2013, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) received 1746 referrals of potential victims and an 89% increase in adults trafficked for forced labour (including criminal exploitation) was identified. 123 of the people exploited under the category of 'labour' were children but unfortunately, whilst the category includes criminal exploitation, it does not differentiate how many children were criminally exploited as opposed to exploited for other forms of labour.