Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery

Encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced labour and domestic servitude. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to force individuals into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment. Modern Slavery is a largely covert crime: victims tend to be controlled and hidden away.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • Forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • Owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse, or the threat of abuse
  • Dehumanised, treated as a commodity, or bought and sold as property
  • Physically constrained or has restrictions on his or her freedom of movement.

Human trafficking involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.

Contemporary slavery takes various forms and afects people of all ages, gender and races, with many victims targeted because of existing vulnerablities including, learning disability, mental health problems and homelessness.

The Home Office first estimated in 2014 that there are 13,000 potential victims of Modern Slavery in the UK.

Potential victims who entered the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) were reported from over 100 nationalities in 2017-18, with the three most prevalent being Albanian, Vietnamese and the United Kingdom. National Crime Agency: National Referral Mechanism

Poverty, limited opportunities, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances and war are the key driving forces that contribute to the trafficking of victims into, through and across the UK.

Possible Signs or Indicators of Abuse

  • Physical appearance – victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnurished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn, scared or frightened.
  • Isolation – victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
  • An unknown person may appear to be monitoring the movements of a worker or appears to be controlling them in some way. This may include the worker being collected and dropped off at work each day.
  • Poor living conditions – victims may be living in a dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or living and working at the same address.  
  • Few or no personal effects – victims may have no identification documents (including access to their passport), have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in, day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for the work they are doing, and may not be appropriate for the season/weather. 
  • The person may not have been provided with the appropriate personal protective equipment linked to the work they are doing, for example, safety gloves, goggles or boots. 
  • Reluctance to seek help – victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for may reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportment, fear of violence to them or their family. 

Modern Slavery Awareness & Victim Identification Guidance: Home Office: Modern Slavery Guidance

Also see the follwing websites and pages for more information:                                                                            

Advice and What You Can Do

  • If a colleague tells you something that might indicate that they are being exploited or ill-treated seek further advice.Talking to someone may stop someone else from being exploited or abused.
  • People may try to use business premises to traffick people. Be alert and report any suspicious activity.
  • Access training: E-Learning Portal    Training
  • Seek advice from your manager, and challenge corporate behaviour if you think that your employer is not doing enough to prevent people from being exploited.
  • If you think that a situation is not right, ask questions and report any concerns or suspicions you have.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open. If you suspect that someone is being controlled or forced by someone else to work or provide services, tell someone.

If you think you’ve identified a trafficker or illegal gangmaster call the police on 101 or 999 in an emergency.

If you think you work with or employ someone who may be a victim of modern slavery or forced labour you can call a helpline on 0800 0121 700 and talk through your concerns or visit:

For information on how you can avoid employing victims of trafficking and how you can help ensure your supply chain is slave free visit:

Find Support in Your Area

Find Support in Your Area