Modern slavery is a term which explains all forms of exploitation and human trafficking. It can include forced labour, domestic servitude, forced or compulsory labour and sexual exploitation.
It is one of the fastest growing international crimes and it is present within our county.
It is important that you are aware of the signs of exploitation. You might live next door to a victim, shop at the same shop or work within the same business as someone who is experiencing modern slavery.
People can be exploited within many industries and in a number of ways and can be unaware that they are even affected by this crime. They can also be forced into providing sexual services in a variety of locations including brothels, pop-up brothels, B&Bs and short-term residential tenancies or holiday lets.
Victims need our help. They may be too scared to come forward or report their experiences to us. This might be because they are controlled by someone through mental or physical abuse or face the threat of violence against them and their families.
We are all responsible for tackling modern slavery at the earliest opportunity and supporting victims.
Signs of modern slavery
If you are a member of the public, these are the signs that someone might be a victim of modern slavery:
showing signs of injury, abuse and malnourishment
will often be in the same clothing and have poor hygiene
appearing to be under the control and influence of others
living in cramped, dirty, overcrowded accommodation
having no access to or control of their passport or identity documents
appearing scared, avoiding eye contact, and being untrusting
allowing others to speak for them when addressed directly, rather than speaking for themselves
being collected very early/returned late at night on a regular basis and work long hours
having inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing/lack safety equipment
being isolated from the local community and their family
travelling only with other workers
Signs of a potential pop-up brothel
brothels are often found in privately rented flats or houses
budget hotels or holiday properties are also sometimes used
you may not see the usual activities associated with a house move, for example there may not be any removal vehicles
people coming and going at all/odd times of the day and night
different women and girls coming and going frequently with small suitcases
men lingering outside the building for no reason
strangers often trying to gain access into the building
men may attend day and night and only stay for a short period
curtains closed most of the time
an increase in visitors and cars to a house or flat at odd hours
individuals may be closely guarded
women may appear scared, intimidated or withdrawn
houses of multiple occupancy - poor or substandard accommodation
excessive amount of takeaway packaging left outside a house or a flat
residents may be dropped off and collected for work in the same way each day at unusual times that is very early or late at night
residents at the property may seem unable to communicate freely and might appear under control or influence of others. They may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk
visible signs of injuries or unexplained untreated health problems
people living in unsuitable premises, such as agricultural or industrial buildings
Advice for businesses
Modern slavery is a complex crime, it cannot be solved by policing alone. It requires all law enforcement, public services and non-governmental organisations to have a joint, consistent approach.
It also requires businesses and other county-wide partners to work together. Forced labour and exploitation can be found in supply chain management and other business operations.
It is essential that businesses can identify exploitation within their supply chains, and ensure the support, ethical recruitment and treatment of all those who work directly or indirectly for their organisation.
The following films offer guidance on what businesses can do if they are concerned about modern slavery:
Further information can be found in the following flyers:
If you need help, or you think someone may be a victim of slavery or exploitation, call the confidential UK Modern Slavery Helpline. It is open 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Telephone interpreters available. Phone 08000 121 700.