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Spot the signs of modern slavery

Spot the signs, report it and free someone from slavery.

First and foremost, modern slavery or trafficking is a crime against humanity.

Adult victims are trafficked all over the world for little or no money – including to and within the UK. They can be forced to work in the sex trade, domestic service, forced labour, and criminal activity or have their organs removed to be sold. There is no typical victim and some victims don’t understand they have been exploited and are entitled to help and support.

Victims are often trafficked to a foreign country where they cannot speak the language, have their travel and identity documents removed, and are told that if they try to attempt an escape, they or their families will be harmed.

Identifying victims:

  • Is the victim in possession of a passport, identification or travel documents? Are these documents in possession of someone else?
  • Does the victim act as if they were instructed or coached by someone else? Do they allow others to speak for them when spoken to directly?
  • Was the victim recruited for one purpose and forced to engage in some other job? Was their transport paid for by facilitators, whom they must pay back through providing services?
  • Does the victim receive little or no payment for their work? Is someone else in control of their earnings?
  • Was the victim forced to perform sexual acts?
  • Does the victim have freedom of movement?
  • Has the victim or family been threatened with harm if the victim attempts to escape?
  • Is the victim under the impression they are bonded by debt, or in a situation of dependence?
  • Has the victim been harmed or deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or other life necessities?
  • Can the victim freely contact friends or family? Do they have limited social interaction or contact with people outside their immediate environment?

What you can do

Report something suspicious you spot to police or other authorities - it could be at a house in your street where suddenly large numbers of young women have been moved in and which then receives visitors all times of day and night; a café, nail bar or car wash where workers seem reticent to engage, not appropriately dressed for their work or increasingly ill fed and unkempt.

If there is an immediate danger to the suspected victim or if you think that the suspected victim is under 18, inform the police and call 999 as a matter of urgency.

Modern Slavery Helpline: 0800 0121 700

For England and Wales, please call our 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 3038151 anytime of the day or night to refer a victim of trafficking or receive advice.

Other helplines:

Northern Ireland and Scotland: Migrant Help - 07766 668781

Scotland: TARA - 0141 276 7724  

Of course, not all victims want to be rescued and there may be instances where reporting a suspected trafficking case puts the potential victim at risk.​

Modern Slavery e-Learning 

Our Introduction to Modern Slavery Awareness e-Learning is now available and can be viewed online here