Based on the information that member states have contributed to Europol’s databases, Europol identifies the following trends regarding THB for labour exploitation.

Please be aware that not all of these trends may apply to all member states. Also, not all information from all criminal investigations into THB for labour exploitation is shared with Europol. So these trends only reflect a portion of the law enforcement information that is available on this topic. Finally, these trends are not based on research.

  • Victims may be recruited within their country of origin by their own nationals using ethnic kinship and even family ties
  • The use of deception is a common feature in the recruitment process. Victims may be lured through newspapers, word of mouth, fraudulent recruitment agencies, and online adverts posted on job-related websites and social media
  • Trafficked workers may use legal documents to enter the country and may have legal permits that expire over time
  • Victims’ ID documents or passports may be taken away by traffickers under false explanations of arranging formalities such as social insurances, bank accounts and work permits. This may be done to limit the victims’ movements and prevent them from asking for support from the police, embassies or consulates
  • Standard aspects of THB for labour exploitation may be: working extremely long hours for a very small or no salary, limited food, with the costs sometimes deducted from their salary, and poor health conditions; sometimes, no employment has been arranged when the victims arrive in the country of destination
  • Victims may experience verbal manipulation, psychological pressure and threats of expulsion from the EU
  • In the EU, private businesses may be responsible for the majority of exploitative situations
  • The use of legal business structures may be common for recruitment (for example, false job agencies) as well as for exploitation purposes (for example, bogus companies or bank accounts)
  • A sophisticated level of organisation may be involved. This happens especially in cases of non-EU victims. They not only need to travel long distances over sea (sometimes victims are concealed in containers of cargo ships), air and land. They also need residence and work permits once they arrive in the EU
  • Victims may pay the costs for transportation and for being able to work in the host country
  • Victims may have to pay extra fees that are deducted from their scarce wages and that are presented as if they are compulsory. This places the exploited workers in further debt and a more precarious state of dependence from which it may be very hard to escape
  • The proceeds of crime may be significant. Often, the suspects combine their gain from the labour or sexual exploitation with benefit fraud using the identities of the victims. They may also open and control bank accounts under their victims’ names.

More information on Europol.