Modern slavery is illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. The victims are tricked or threatened to make them work for little or no money, or to pay back a debt.
Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. The abuser uses different ways to make them work. They use fear and intimidation to stop the victims from leaving. They may also:
- Take away identity documents
- Steal benefits that were intended for the victim
- Stop the victim from leaving, by locking them up for example
- Stop the victim from talking with or seeing people who could help
- Use violence or threats of violence
- Deprive the victim of food, warmth and a place to sleep
Modern slavery is abuse and a crime.
Crucial: Although some victims of modern slavery have come from abroad, there are also victims of all ages who were born in the UK, including children and young people. These young people may also be abused through Child Sexual Exploitation and Criminal Exploitation.
Spot the signs
Modern slavery could be happening in your community so it’s important you know the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime.
- How do they look? Scruffy, dirty, malnourished, injured?
- How are they acting? Anxious, afraid, reluctant to talk?
- What’s their work situation like? Long hours, unsuitable clothing, wrong equipment?
- How’s their accommodation? Overcrowded, poorly maintained, curtains always closed?
- What are their movements like? Never leave the house alone, limited contact with friends and family, no access to money or identification?
Victims are often told that what is happening to them is normal and that they cannot trust anyone else. But forcing someone else to work for no money is always wrong.
Support in other languages: Many people who are victims of modern slavery are more vulnerable because they cannot access the internet. They may also be vulnerable because they cannot read information in English. You can download printable information sheets in lots of different languages including Albanian, Chinese and Polish from the Modern slavery : Closer than you think website, where there are also videos and infographics.
When people being exploited are taken to different towns, cities or even countries, this is called trafficking. This is abuse and support is available to stop the criminals and support the person being exploited.
Support in other languages: These leaflets from the NSPCC explain children's rights, child trafficking and how to ask for help in lots of different languages.
We all have a role to play in keeping people safe from harm. If you think someone may be a victim of modern slavery tell someone. You will always be taken seriously.
To report a suspicion or seek advice you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
You can also report to the police on 101 or call 999 in an emergency.
If the person being exploited is a child you can report a concern to the Local Authority.
You can also contact Crimestoppers to make an anonymous report.