Modern Slavery

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:

The 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

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

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Types of modern slavery

Modern slavery can include:

This list is not exhaustive – the image is taken from a government publication and shows common areas where labour exploitation takes place.

What to 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.
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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.
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  • SAVE ME film and facilitator handbook

    The SAVE ME short film and accompanying handbook were co-produced by local young people, Enfield Council and the AVIARD INSPIRES film company. They can be used to aid discussions, facilitate workshops, enhance learning and educate children, parents, professionals, communities and businesses about grooming, child exploitation, coercive control and other abuses towards children. They can be used in settings such as schools, colleges, community youth centres, youth justice settings and parenting groups etc.

  • Modern slavery awareness & victim identification guidance

    Modern slavery is happening in the UK today, but the crime can be difficult to spot and go unreported. This guidance is intended as a resource providing clear and up to date information on the key facts, and to help public sector workers who may not routinely come across modern slavery recognise the signs and respond so that more victims get help and perpetrators are brought to justice.

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

    This guidance sets out the steps local authorities should take to plan for the provision of support for looked after children who are unaccompanied asylum seeking children, unaccompanied migrant children or child victims of modern slavery including trafficking.

  • The Passage Modern Slavery Handbook

    Tackling modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation in the homelessness sector. This handbook explains what slavery looks like in the homeless community, what to watch out for and what you can do about it.

    Although directed at the homelessness sector, this handbook provides a useful summary of what modern slavery is and the vulnerabilities people face.

  • Modern slavery explained

    From the charity Unseen – What is modern slavery? Slavery is an umbrella term for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service. Millions of people around the world are trapped in modern slavery. It is a crime happening in our communities, takeaways, hotels, car washes, nail bars and private homes, and modern slaves could be working for you.

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

    The guidance considers the sorts of things which indicate that a person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking, arrangements for determining whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking and arrangements for providing assistance and support (NB: non-statutory for Scotland and Northern Ireland).

  • Video resources …

    Video resources created by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority and other agencies looking at areas such as debt bondage, accommodation, survivor stories and modern slavery.

  • Modern slavery training: resource page

    Government page which provides a number of different sets of training materials around modern slavery.

  • Types of Exploitation – Infographic

    One page infographic setting out the types of exploitation that is seen with modern slavery. Can be used as a poster.

  • Signs of Exploitation – Infographic

    One page infographic setting out the signs that might indicate that an individual is a victim of modern slavery – can be used as a poster.

  • Victim Vulnerabilities – Infographic

    One page document setting out the vulnerabilities that can be seen in victims of modern slavery.  Can be used as a poster.

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