Modern slavery

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. It covers a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. They are tricked or threatened into work and may feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not recognise themselves as a victim.

Types of modern slavery

Types of modern slavery include:

  • Human trafficking – adults and children are traded so they can be exploited by others for commercial gain.
  • Forced labour – victims are forced to work against their will, often working very long hours for little or no pay in dire conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It can happen in many sectors of the economy.
  • Sexual exploitation – victims are pressurised to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts, such as prostitution, escort work and pornography. Women and children make up the majority of victims, but men can also be affected.
  • Criminal exploitation – often controlled and maltreated, victims are forced into crimes such as cannabis cultivation or pick-pocketing against their will. They might also have their benefits taken over by their exploiter.
  • Organ harvesting – the illegal removal of a person's internal organs which can then be sold

Signs to look out for

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.

The signs aren’t always obvious but there are some that you may notice: 

  • does a person look scruffy, malnourished or injured?
  • is a person acting anxious, afraid or unable to make eye contact?
  • is a person doing long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or have the wrong equipment for the job?
  • is a person's home overcrowded, poorly maintained or are the curtains always closed?
  • does a person behave like they’re being instructed by someone else, picked up/dropped off at the same time and place every day or don’t have access to money or identification?

How to report modern slavery

Suspected incidents of modern slavery should be reported as follows:

  • In case of any emergency: dial 999
  • For a non-emergency: dial 101
  • If you want to report anonymously, call CrimeStoppers: 0800 555 111

Get help for a victim 

If you, or someone you know, may be a victim of modern slavery, you can contact the following organisations for help and advice: