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Justice Minister launches campaign to raise awareness of human trafficking

A new Crimestoppers campaign to highlight human trafficking for the purposes of forced labour and domestic servitude has been launched by Justice Minister David Ford.
Monday, 21 January 2013

This campaign is part of my Department’s continued work in raising awareness of this awful crime. We want the public to know what to look out for and report what they know or suspect. Victims can then be recovered from the horrendous situation they find themselves in

Minister of Justice David Ford MLA,Northern Ireland Department of Justice

The ‘Read the Signs’ campaign, which will be running throughout the UK, is being supported by the Department of Justice and the PSNI.  It highlights that people are trafficked into Northern Ireland for forced labour and encourages the public to report their suspicions.

The campaign includes a Crimestoppers YouTube video, radio advertising, social media and posters and flyers throughout Northern Ireland.

The video can be viewed at:

If you are using an iPhone or tablet, please use this link:

It challenges viewers to look at a trafficking situation and to take action.  More information on human trafficking and what you can do can also be found at

Launching the campaign, David Ford said: “Human trafficking, in all its forms, is a horrendous crime.  It is a crime that has received considerable attention in Northern Ireland recently and that is to be welcomed.  Attention to date has however tended to focus on human trafficking for sexual exploitation and I would encourage the public to continue to report their suspicions in this regard.

“What this campaign aims to do is to highlight that people are also trafficked into Northern Ireland for forced labour and domestic servitude.  Indeed in 2011/12 nine of the 33 potential victims of human trafficking recovered in Northern Ireland had been trafficked for the purpose of forced labour.

“This campaign is part of my Department’s continued work in raising awareness of this awful crime.  We want the public to know what to look out for and report what they know or suspect. Victims can then be recovered from the horrendous situation they find themselves in.”

Posters and flyers will be distributed throughout Northern Ireland with the assistance of members of the newly established Engagement Group on Human Trafficking.  

David Ford said: “I am grateful to members for their assistance with this campaign.  I hope this is the first of many opportunities we will have to work together on such awareness raising campaigns.”

Val Smyth, Vice Chair of NI Crimestoppers Volunteer Board said: “The purpose of this campaign is to encourage the public to look out for the signs of Human Trafficking and to pass on any information they might have to Crimestoppers.

“This is an inhumane crime against innocent victims and Crimestoppers would appeal to everyone to look at the video in order to recognise the signs.  If anyone has any information or suspicions, you can contact the charity anonymously on our 0800 555 111 number or through our secure online form at  We don’t want to know who you are, only what you know.”

The PSNI lead-officer on Human Trafficking, Detective Superintendent Philip Marshall, added: "Human Trafficking specifically for labour exploitation is a crime type that impacts on all communities in Northern Ireland and further afield. Public information is key to tackling the criminals involved, but is equally important in securing the rescue of men, women and children who are forced into exploitative work conditions. I would encourage everyone to take the opportunity provided by this Crimestoppers campaign to raise their own awareness and, therefore, have the potential to make a real difference to people's lives."

Notes to editors

  1. In 2009/10, 25 potential victims of human trafficking were recovered, three were trafficked for the purpose of forced labour, 17 for sexual exploitation and two for domestic servitude.  The motivation for trafficking the remaining three potential victims is unclear.  In 2010/11, there were 23 potential victims, five for forced labour and 18 for sexual exploitation.  In 2011/12, there were 33 potential victims, nine for forced labour and 24 for sexual exploitation.
  2. To spread the word through social media, please use the hashtag #readthesigns.
  3. How to read the signs of forced labour exploitation:
  4. Victims are often forced to live in cramped and/or overcrowded conditions.
  5. They may be collected very early and/or returned late at night on a regular basis.
  6. May have inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing, and/or a lack of safety equipment.
  7. There may be a heavy security presence at the premises where they live or work.
  8. Victims’ physical appearance may show signs of injury, malnourishment, and their general appearance may be unkempt.
  9. They may be isolated from the local community and/or appear to be under the control or influence of others.
  10. An event to mark the launch of this campaign will be held in Room 29, Parliament Buildings on Monday 21 January 2013.  The Minister and representatives from Crimestoppers and the PSNI will be available for interview.
  11. All media enquires should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 90526444.  Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.
  12. Human Trafficking forced labour flyer (PDF 1657 KB)
  13. Human Trafficking forced labour poster (PDF 918 KB)