Modern slavery

Modern slavery is when someone is forced to work for no money. It is illegal and a form of abuse.
Young woman sat in front of a crumbling brick wall

Modern slavery is illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. The victims are tricked or threatened  to make them work for no money.

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.

Report it

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.

You can also contact Crimestoppers to make an anonymous report.


Free the unseen.

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