On 9 February 2023, EUROSTAT published the 2021 statistics on trafficking in human beings. According to these statistics, 7,155 trafficked persons were registered in the EU in 2021, 10% more than in 2020. The actual number is estimated to be significantly higher, as the statistics only cover cases of trafficking registered by official agencies and authorities. Many trafficked persons remain undetected or do not report to official agencies.
Two thirds of the registered trafficked persons were women and girls. Trafficking for sexual exploitation was again the most frequently registered form of exploitation in 2021 with 56 %. Labour exploitation was higher than in previous years with a share of 29 %. Other exploitation purposes, including benefit fraud, criminal activity and forced begging, amounted to 15.8% in 2021, about 5% higher than in 2019-2020.
Taking into account the countries that provided data for both 2020 and 2021, the number of suspected traffickers in 2021 increased by 12.5% compared to 2020 and the number of convicted perpetrators in 2021 increased by 54.9% compared to 2020. The number of convicted persons remained significantly lower than the number of suspected traffickers
The figures collected can vary widely across the EU due to different approaches to reporting data in police, prosecution and court systems, different levels of implementation of the EU Directive on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Human Beings in EU Member States and different criminal justice responses to trafficking. Furthermore, not all EU Member States regularly report trafficking figures and the statistics only register trafficked persons identified by the competent official authorities or by other national and non-national bodies.