Illegally trafficked women who end up in custody are not getting the help and support they are entitled to, research revealed yesterday.
International law stipulates that victims of trafficking should receive protection.
But just one in 40 cases in Britain are fully investigated by the police, according to the University of Cambridge
Professor Loraine Gelsthorpe said: "There should be renewed efforts to recognise that 'offenders' can also be 'victims,' and to ensure that appropriate credence is given to women's accounts of their own experience.
"The powerlessness of these women in the hands of their traffickers is terrifyingly replicated within the criminal justice system."
Ms Gelsthorpe said that the legitimacy of the criminal justice system stands or falls on the way in which we treat victims as well as offenders.
The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) framework is responsible for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive appropriate protection and support.
But just 11 of the 43 women identified by researchers as having been trafficked were processed through the NRM, and two of these women were not processed until after their sentence was completed.
The report's findings will be debated tomorrow by MPs and peers at a seminar in the House of Lords convened by the Prison Reform Trust.