AVON and Somerset Police is urging people to be on the lookout for warning signs that a child has been trafficked into the area by county lines gangs.

According to the charity Barnardo's, trafficking is the movement of a person from one place to another for the purpose of exploitation.

The organisation's website reads: "Children can be smuggled or trafficked into the UK from many parts of the world to be exploited, however some children are trafficked by being moved out of the UK, in and around the UK and even from house to house in their local area.

"They are often moved away from their family and friends so that they can be isolated and controlled by traffickers. 

"Children who are trafficked for the purpose of exploitation, may not always recognise that what is happening to them is trafficking, or may possibly be too afraid to seek help due to a threat of harm towards them, or in some cases to their friends and family. "

There are certain warning signs that a child has been trafficked. An Avon and Somerset Police spokesperson said: "Children are being trafficked into Avon and Somerset by county lines gangs.

"Victims may not always realise what is happening to them or may be too afraid to seek help.

"If you have suspicions, please report them."

Barnardo's lists the main signs of trafficking, which are:

  • Injury or abuse;
  • Appearing malnourished, tired or unwell;
  • Poor hygiene;
  • Ongoing or frequent illnesses or infections; 
  • Forced pregnancy, miscarriage or abortion; 
  • Living or working in hazardous conditions;
  • Appearing anxious, distressed, depressed, or emotionally numb; 
  • Avoiding eye contact, appearing fearful, allowing others to speak on their behalf or not speaking freely;
  • Being secretive or isolated from other children; 
  • Not attending school or regularly skipping classes;
  • Behaving in a fearful or subservient manner;
  • Being accompanied by a controlling or abusive adult;
  • Carrying false identification documents or having none at all; 
  • No control over their personal documents or money; 
  • Working without legal permission or below the minimum wage;
  • Moving frequently or being unwilling to disclose their location or living conditions; 
  • Not having access to their bank account, passport, visa or legal documentation;
  • Being in contact with known criminals or traffickers.