Modern slavery

Modern slavery can affect anyone, regardless of age and 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:

  • human trafficking;
  • slavery;
  • servitude; and
  • forced or compulsory labour.

Identified potential victims to the year ending March 2019 were from over 100 different countries of origin.  The same statistics also identify that children under the age of 18 made up around 45% of referrals to the National Referral Mechanism.  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 unseenuk.org.

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 not attending school;
  • 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.
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Potential indicators

Potential victims may:

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

It is not uncommon for perpetrators to provide stories for victims to tell if approached by the authorities. Errors or lack of reality may be because their initial stories are composed by others and learnt.

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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Resources

  • 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. We hope that this will help you to provide better support to your service users by preventing the crime and by supporting victims in your workplace.

    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, as Unseen Director Kate Garbers explains in this powerful film, modern slaves could be working for you.

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

    Statutory guidance that considers the sorts of things which indicate that a person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking, arrangements for providing assistance and support to persons who there are reasonable grounds to believe may be victims of slavery or human trafficking and arrangements for determining whether there are reasonable grounds to believe that a person may be a victim of slavery or human trafficking.

  • 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.

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