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Modern slavery

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is a term introduced in the UK in 2013 to describe all offences previously described as human trafficking, slavery, forced labour and domestic servitude.

Human trafficking is the movement or recruitment of people by deception or coercion with the purpose of exploiting them.

Exploitation can take place in a number of ways, including:

  • criminal exploitation
  • domestic servitude
  • labour exploitation
  • sexual exploitation

Victims are forced to work against their will in many different settings, including brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars, car washes, agriculture and even within people’s homes.

Signs to look out for: 

  • Appearance: Signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn.
  • Isolation: Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control, influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
  • Poor living conditions: Victims may be living in 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, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in and day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
  • Restricted freedom of movement: Victims may have no identification documents (e.g. passport), have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out.
  • Unusual travel times: They may be dropped off/collected for work on a regular basis either very early or late at night.
  • Reluctant to seek help: Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to help them or their family.

If there is an immediate danger to the suspected victim, or if you think that the suspected victim is under 18, inform the police and call 999 as a matter of urgency. 

For 24/7 information and support contact the Modern Slavery Helpline: 0800 0121 700 

Information from the community can play a vital role in tackling modern slavery, no matter how small or insignificant. If you see something suspicious, call Thames Valley Police on 101

You can also call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111. 

Modern slavery is closer than you think. This Home Office film (external website) includes information on how to spot potential victims, how they may be exploited and what you can do to help free the UK of modern slavery.  

Contact information