Sense it. Spot it.

Sexual Exploitation

Count the signs. If you see one or more of these signs at a property consider making a referral to the appropriate organisation. Alongside these specific signs can you identify any signs that suggest movement, recruitment, deception, coercion or exploitation?

What is sexual exploitation?

Sexual exploitation is when someone is controlled for non-consensual sex.

Many of these indicators just help to identify that sex is sold or purchased at a property. These should be layered with the 'significant signs' that suggest exploitation more explicitly.


  • Outside the property

  • When you enter

  • In the bedrooms

  • Question it

Back up

Dig deeper


Are there bars covering the windows of the property? Robberies are not uncommon at brothels.


Does the entrance to property have CCTV cameras installed?


Is the letterbox sealed to prevent use?


Do the owners seem evasive as if they are buying time for workers to exit the property?


Have you been told to call before turning up at the property or told to come back another time?


Are the curtains at the property always drawn?


Is the person who is potentially selling sex closely guarded?


Do people at the property look to take cues from a madam when asked questions?

Viewing Area

Is there a room which resembles a viewing area more than a living area?


Is your access to certain areas of the property restriced or are doors locked?


Are there women in the property with very limited amounts of clothing or is a large proportion of their clothing of a 'sexual' nature?


Is there a question over the age of the people at the premises who are potentially selling sex?


Do you see a bank of mobile phones with numbers written on the back of them? The numbers may be consecutive or very similar and would be used for phone sex lines.


When you enter the property, is there a strong smell that strikes you? The nature of the activityis likely the cause of this.


Where there are locks on doors within the property do you see any signs of attacks on them? There may also be clawing around the locks on the back of the doors.


Is there a distinct lack of home furnishings and other items you would expect to see in a residential property?


Does the the person who is potentially selling sex have any untreated injuries or noticeable conditions/diseases?


Does the person potentially selling sex have any signs of physical abuse on their body such as cigarette burns or tattoos indicating ownership? Balkan women are known to be given marks behind their ears or under their arms for example.

Ritual Abuse

Are there any signs of ritual abuse or witchcraft having taken place? It may be systematic or sustained over a long period of time.


Do the people that are potentially selling sex also sleep on the premises? Brothels are not normally used as accommodation for sex workers as well.


Do you notice an excessive amount of condoms at the property? This just helps to affirm that sex is happening in the property.


Is the person selling sex allowed to keep the money they make? A trafficked sex worker will have restriced or no access to this money.


Are there any signs that the person selling sex is experiencing emotional trauma as a result of the work they are doing?

Associated Crimes

Has the person been subjected to other crimes such as abduction, assault or rape?


Does the person selling sex only have an English vocabulary of sexualised words?


Are there any signs that the person selling sex is experiencing either general or sexual health issues? Pelvic inflammation disorder for example, which is easily treatable with access to medical care.


Is there any evidence that the person has been forced, intimidated or coerced into providing sexual services?


Are women moved between suspected brothels or work in alternate locations?


Is there a pricelist of services made available to punters that includes services that indigenous sex workers would not normally provide?

hover over boxes to reveal the signs

If a child or adult is in immediate danger call 999.

  • Police

    Share what you have identified with your local police force.

  • Victim Support

    Support, advice and services available for potential adult trafficking cases.

  • Children's Services

    Advice and information on what to do and who to contact when a case involves a child.

  • Immigration Support

    Advice for cases where the potential victim may need immigration support.

  • The Police

    If the person's life is in immediate danger then you should call the police straight away.

    Phone: 999


    Local Police

    If the potential victim is in a situation that needs intervention then you should call your local police.

    Calls to 101 are a fixed rate of 15p per call, you will be redirected to the relevant place.

    Phone: 101

    Metropolitan Police

    The metropolitan police have a 24hour helpline for Victims and those who suspect trafficked victims are living in their community.

    Phone: 0800 783 25 89



    Call Crimestoppers if you would like to make an anonymous report of any information you have surrounding human trafficking.

    Phone: 0800 555 111


    Salvation Army

    The Salvation Army is responsible for delivering the UK government's contract to manage support services for adult female and male victims of Human Trafficking. Their confidential referral helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

    Phone: 0300 303 81 51



    Migrant Help

    Migrant Help is responsible for support services for adult female and male victims of Human Trafficking. For cases in Scotland and NI they are a primary contact. Available 24 hours a day. They are a first responder for the NRM.

    Phone: 01304 203 977 or 07766 668 781




    The Scottish Government provides funding to TARA (the Trafficking Awareness Raising Alliance) to provide support to women, over 18 yrs, trafficked (or potentially trafficked) for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation, recovered across Scotland.

    Phone: 0141 276 77 24

    POPPY Project

    The Poppy Project provides support, advocacy and accommodation to trafficked women. They are a first responder for the NRM.

    Phone: 020 7735 2062 (ask for the POPPY Project duty worker)




    Provide advice, advocacy and support services in the UK for migrant domestic workers. They are a first responder for the NRM.

    Phone: 0207 243 2942



    Medaille Trust

    Help women, young men and children who have been freed from human-trafficking. They provide safe housing and offer opportunities for physical and psychological healing and rehabilitation. They are a first responder for the NRM.



    Unseen UK

    Unseen runs secure accommodation for women of 18 years and over who are classified as survivors/victims of human trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation and domestic servitude. They are a first responder for the NRM.




    NSPCC National Child Trafficking Advice Centre (CTAC) provides information and advice to any professional working with children or young people who may have been trafficked into the UK. Available Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 4.30pm. They are a first responder for the NRM.

    Phone: 0808 800 5000



    Children's Services

    Your Local Authority's Children's Services are responsible for all cases that involve children.

    Your Local Authority has a general duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of all children in need in your area, regardless of their immigration status. They have responsibilities for unaccompanied children, as well as those who arrive in the UK with their parents and about whose safety and welfare there are concerns.

    If you feel your local Children's Services would benefit from advice on how to respond to child trafficking cases recommend they contact NSPCC CTAC or ECPAT.




    End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and the Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes (ECPAT) research, campaign and lobby government to prevent child exploitation and protect children in tourism and child victims of trafficking. They provide training on safeguarding children from trafficking.

    Read this page on their website which provides guidance for professionals working with children who may have been trafficked.


    Phone: 0207 233 9887



    Anti Trafficking Legal Project

    ATLeP is a network of solicitors, barristers and specialist practitioners who advise, represent and support victims of trafficking and other vulnerable people.



    AIRE Centre

    The AIRE Centre promotes awareness of European law rights and assist marginalised individuals and those in vulnerable circumstances to assert those rights.

    Phone: 0207 831 4276



    Migrant's Rights Network

    Organisation working and campaigning in support of migrants in the UK.

    Phone: 0207 336 9412