Modern Slavery

Safeguarding Network

February 2024 - 2 minute read

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Modern slavery can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender or nationality - and includes the trafficking of people for the purposes of exploitation.

Modern slavery is mostly a hidden crime, and to get a true picture of prevalence is very challenging. It is an umbrella term and can include:

Statistics also identify that whilst the majority of children referred to the National Referral Mechanism were aged between 15-17, nearly 800 were younger, with 7 children being under 5 years old at the point of referral. Examples in relation to children and young people include county lines, sexual exploitation and labour exploitation.

More information such as survivor stories can be found at

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Definition of modern slavery

“An umbrella term for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in slavery or servitude, or requires another person to perform forced or compulsory labour.”

Adapted from the Modern Slavery Act, 2015

Types of modern slavery

Modern slavery can include:

Spot the signs

Look for:

  • situations where you do not know who holds parental responsibility (see also private fostering);
  • children missing from education and/or home;
  • unbelievable or surprising accounts of how they are in the country;
  • intimidation of people at risk;
  • parents working without pay;
  • children being involved in inappropriate work;
  • injuries;
  • tattoos or other marks indicating ‘ownership’;
  • distrust of authority;
  • indicators of child exploitation.


Potential victims may:

  • be reluctant to come forward with information;
  • not recognise themselves as having been trafficked, exploited or enslaved;
  • tell their stories with obvious errors.

It’s not uncommon for perpetrators to provide stories for victims to tell if approached by the authorities. Errors or unrealistic stories may be because they have had to memorise false histories that have been composed by others.

Other indicators may include those relating to physical health, sexual health and emotional health, with these being broadly similar to those relating to general safeguarding concerns where a person is being exploited (child or adult).

What to do

  • Modern slavery of children is child abuse, therefore normal child protection procedures apply.
  • Refer to children’s services or the police as a ‘first responder’.
  • Ensure they follow the National Referral Mechanism to assess next steps.
  • Follow your safeguarding procedures in relation to any other risks.

DSL Training Materials

  • Presentation

  • Presenter Notes

  • Handout for staff

  • Modern Slavery Quiz

  • Modern slavery – Quiz (Answer Sheet)

  • Modern slavery scenario – EYFS

  • Modern slavery scenario (EYFS) – DSL Information sheet

  • Modern slavery scenario – Primary school

  • Modern slavery scenario (primary) – DSL Information sheet

  • Modern slavery scenario – Secondary Schools

  • Modern slavery scenario (secondary) – DSL Information sheet

  • Modern Slavery Scenario – 16+ / FE settings – DSL Information Sheet

  • Modern Slavery Scenario – 16+ / FE settings

  • Modern slavery scenario – SEND focus

  • Modern slavery scenario (SEND focus) – DSL Information sheet

  • Modern slavery scenario – Care Settings

  • Modern slavery scenario (care settings) – DSL Information sheet


  • SAVE ME film and facilitator handbook

  • Modern slavery awareness and victim identification guidance

  • Care of unaccompanied migrant children and child victims of modern slavery - Statutory Guidance

  • The Passage Modern Slavery Handbook

  • Modern slavery explained

  • Modern Slavery Act 2015 – Statutory Guidance for England and Wales

  • Video resources …

  • Modern slavery training: resource page

  • Types of Exploitation – Infographic

  • Signs of Exploitation – Infographic

  • Victim Vulnerabilities – Infographic

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