Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
What is Modern Slavery?
Someone is in slavery if they are forced to work, if they are owned or controlled by an employer, if they are dehumanised and treated as a commodity, or bought and sold as ‘property’, or if they are physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.
There is no ‘typical’ victim of modern slavery. Victims can be men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. They are forced into a situation through the use or threat of violence, deception or coercion. Victims may enter the UK legally, or on forged documentation, or they may be a UK citizen living in the UK who is then forced into slavery.
Modern slavery covers a range of exploitation including; human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage, domestic servitude, criminal activities, child labour, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and forced and early marriage.
How to report modern slavery
If you think you or someone you know is a victim of modern slavery, you can report it online or call us on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency).
You can also report it in person at your local police station.
Human Trafficking is the illegal movement of people through force, fraud or deception, with the intention of exploiting them.
Sexual exploitation includes but is not limited to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images/videos. For more information visit our Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE) page.
Domestic servitude involves a victim being forced to work in usually private households, usually performing domestic chores and childcare duties. Their freedom may be restricted and they may work long hours often for little or no pay, often sleeping where they work.
Forced labour and child labour victims may be forced to work long hours for little or no pay in poor conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families.
It can happen in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars). Often victims are housed together in one dwelling.
Debt Bondage or bonded labour is the most widespread form of slavery in the world. A person becomes a bonded labourer when their labour is demanded as a means of repayment for a loan.
The person is then tricked or trapped into working for very little or no pay to repay debts their employer says they owe, and they are not allowed to work for anyone else.
Low wages and increased debts mean not only that they cannot ever hope to pay off the loan, but the debt may be passed down to their children.
Criminal exploitation is the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker.
Some modern slavery victims are also involved in fraud or financial crime whereby perpetrators force victims to claim benefits on arrival but the money is withheld, or the victim is forced to take out loans or credit cards.
Warning signs of modern slavery and human trafficking
Members of the public should think, spot the signs and speak out against the abuse and exploitation of anyone in our community.
There is no typical victim of slavery – victims can be men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities and nationalities and cut across the population. But it is normally more prevalent among the most vulnerable, and within minority or socially excluded groups
Warning signs to look out for include the following:
Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn.
Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control or influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or living and working at the same address.
Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
Victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents kept from them such as passports.
You may notice people being dropped off or collected for work on a regular basis, either very early or late at night.
Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons.
They may believe they do not know who to trust or where to get help, fear deportation, or violence to them or their family.
If you think you are a victim of modern slavery please seek help. You can contact the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700.
They can assist you to understand what help is available including information, advice and ways to access support. The Modern Slavery Helpline is confidential, but, if you don't want to give your name, you don’t have to.
Visit the Modern Slavery Helpline website for more information.
The Salvation Army can also help. Call their 24 hour helpline: 0300 3038151 or visit: www.salvationarmy.org.uk/human-trafficking
You can also contact the police by ringing 101 or by making contact online here. In an emergency please dial 999.
For information in different languages please see the links available under the 'Help for victims in various languages' section of this page.