What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is a complex crime that operates on a huge scale across multiple countries. 

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery encompasses:

  • Slavery.
  • Human trafficking.
  • Forced labour and domestic servitude.
  • Traffickers and slave masters using whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Who is at Risk of Modern Slavery?

The Home Office has a document entitled “Modern Slavery: How the UK is Leading the Fight.” In this document, they list a number of factors that might make a person at risk of becoming a victim of modern slavery. Factors include poverty, limited opportunities at home, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances, and war.

People with learning disabilities are also at risk of getting coerced into modern slavery. They could be isolated in their communities. They may be ineligible for support services. Or they may simply get overlooked if they are not viewed as a high profile concern.

Spotting the Signs of Modern Slavery

The problem is that victims of modern slavery are hard to spot. Modern slave masters go to great lengths to keep their activities secret. They also isolate their victims while restricting their movements. This makes it very difficult for them to get help.

But there are some signs you can look out for. Some of them are obvious, and some are a little more subtle:

  • The person looks uneasy, unkempt, or malnourished. They may also have untreated injuries.
  • The person does not speak for themselves, and someone else pays for all their travel and food.
  • Have you noticed someone picked up and dropped off from work or another location at odd times?
  • Is the person able to tell you their own address?

Not all of these signs indicate that the person is a victim of modern slavery. But any one sign indicates that an investigation may be in order.

Local Authorities, British Transport Police, National Crime Agency and The Children’s Society are working in partnership to ask the public to ‘look closer’ to recognise and respond to signs of exploitation and abuse. They have produced a guide to encourage people to Look Closer.

What To Do if You Suspect Modern Slavery is Happening in Your Area?

It’s always worth raising your concerns.

The Salvation Army has a 24/7 confidential helpline where you can share your concerns and get the help you need. It’s 0300 303 8151.

But modern slavery is a serious crime. So if you think someone is in immediate danger, or if the individual is under 18, call the police on 999. They’ll take your concerns very seriously indeed, and they’ll treat the case as a matter of urgency.

You can read about the other types of harm.


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