IOM has been working to combat human trafficking for over 20 years across the globe, through activities such as capacity building, research and data analysis and direct assistance to victims. In the UK, we have been working on human trafficking and modern slavery issues since 2011, in line with the following four pillars: training and capacity building, improving victim support, international collaboration and private sector engagement.

Training and Capacity Building

IOM delivers bespoke human trafficking and modern slavery awareness-raising sessions and training for frontline professionals working across a variety of organisations who may come into contact with potential victims in the course of their work. The sessions equip participants with an understanding of the issues, the key indicators to be aware of to detect potential cases of trafficking, and ways to take action. These sessions are CPD accredited, with content endorsed by the office of the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.

Across the UK, we have trained over 2,000 frontline professionals and others, including social workers, healthcare professionals, housing officers, embassy staff and faith-based organisations. Along with Stop the Traffik, IOM was commissioned to develop a suite of multi-agency training materials for local authority, police and NHS staff across London, supported by a train-the-trainer methodology.

Between 2017 and 2019, IOM implemented a pilot project with the London Borough of Croydon to support foster carers who look after unaccompanied asylum seeking children who have been or may be at risk of trafficking or going missing, through activities that aim to increase their confidence and capacity. The project provided foster carers with training, online materials and the opportunity to participate in forums with experts and other carers, particularly about Albanian and Vietnamese children who are most at risk. Find out more about the Strengthening Responses to Child Trafficking and Modern Slavery project.

Improving Victim Support

Over the past twenty years, IOM has provided direct assistance to almost 90,000 victims of trafficking all over the world. It is essential that people affected by human trafficking and modern slavery are provided with appropriate short and long term care to help them recover from the exploitation they have endured. We work alongside various government and non-governmental organisations to help improve the way in which support is provided, following a victim-centred approach, with strong decision-making and better end-to-end care that extends as long as necessary to support their recovery.

At present, there is no specialised programme to assist survivors of trafficking who would like to return to their country of origin but need support to do so. IOM is advocating for this to change to ensure that there are appropriate risks assessment measures in place and access to reintegration assistance in their place of return. Find out more about Voluntary Return and Reintegration for Survivors of Trafficking

Skills Training and Reintegration (STAR) for Survivors of Trafficking and Modern Slavery 

The Skills Training and Reintegration (STAR) Project supported survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery on their journey towards employment and integration in the UK. The project ran from November 2020 to March 2022 and provided skills development training and personalised employment support to a group of survivors, helping to strengthen their digital skills, life skills and employment skills. 

Read more about the STAR project

International Collaboration

As transnational issues, human trafficking and modern slavery requires strong collaboration between governments, civil society and academics across many different countries. Using our global network of offices and partners, we work to facilitate information sharing and engagement between the UK and key countries of origin from which people are most commonly trafficked.

Between 2017 and 2019, IOM worked with the University of Bedfordshire on a research project exploring vulnerabilities and resilience to human trafficking in Albania, Nigeria and Viet Nam – the top three countries of origin for people referred into the NRM as potential victims of trafficking. Using IOM’s determinants of migrant vulnerability model to help shape this study, the research widens the evidence base on the contextual factors that can contribute to a trafficking situation at an individual, household and family, community and structural level. Find out more about the 'Vulnerabilities' Study

IOM is currently co-chairing the Modern Slavery Strategy and Implementation Group's (MSSIG) International Sub-Group, alongside Anti-Slavery International. The group brings together government and non-government actors to reduce modern slavery in the UK and globally.

Our headquarters also engages in global-level actions and coordination efforts on human trafficking and modern slavery, through our headquarters in Geneva and our UN special liaison office in New York. Amongst our initiatives, within the Alliance 8.7, a global partnership committed to take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, modern slavery, human trafficking and child labour, in accordance with Target 8.7 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, IOM leads the action groups on Migration, and Conflict and Humanitarian Settings. 

Ethical Recruitment and Private Sector Engagement 

The presence of human trafficking and modern slavery in the operations and supply chains of many businesses internationally and in the UK is a significant concern, with a majority of the estimated 25 million victims of forced labour in the world being exploited in the private economy (Global Estimate on Modern Slavery, ILO-Walk Free, in partnership with IOM, 2016). 

Through the International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS), IOM is developing a global initiative designed to promote ethical internation labour recruiment. It works by defining and setting a benchmark for ethical recruitment (the IRIS standard), and through establishing a voluntary certification system for ethical labour recruiters, and a compliance and monitoring mechanism. IRIS was created by IOM and a coalition of partners from governments, the private sector and civil society with the ultimate aim of creating the enabling environment for ethical recruitment to become the norm. 

In 2018, IOM also developed the Remediation Guidelines for Victims of Exploitation in Extended Mineral Supply Chains. This provides practical guidance for downstream companies and their business partners on how to take incidents forward when victims have been identified in the supply chain, to ensure they are appropriately support and provided with effective remedy.