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Modern slavery

Victims of modern slavery can be of any age, gender, or race, but are often taken advantage of due to their vulnerability.

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is when somebody is forced or coerced to do something they don't want to do, and another person gains from this exploitation.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • Forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • Owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
  • Dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property'
  • Physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom

Types of modern slavery

The following definitions are encompassed within the term 'modern slavery' for the purposes of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

These are:

  • Slavery is where ownership is exercised over a person
  • Servitude involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion
  • Forced or compulsory labour involves work or service extracted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily
  • Human trafficking concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them

Signs of modern slavery

There may be indications that someone is a victim. The person might:

  • Feel fearful, anxious or distrustful of authorities
  • Show signs of trauma (physical/psychological)
  • Suffer injuries that have been left untreated
  • Not know their home or work address
  • Have a story that sounds rehearsed
  • Have someone else speak on their behalf
  • Believe they have debt to pay off
  • Be separated from their passport
  • Not have days off or be unable to leave the workplace
  • Have limited/no social interaction
  • Reveal threats have been made against them or their family

Organisations that can help

If you or someone you know is being or has been exploited or you are unsure if someone is in need of help, assistance and advice is available:

How to report modern slavery

Communities have an important role to play in recognising abuse. If you recognise any of the above signs and suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, tell someone. You will always be taken seriously and protection and support is available.

Modern Slavery Helpline

To report a suspicion or seek advice you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Report to the police

You can also report it to the Metropolitan Police online or phone 101 at any time to report an incident. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the textphone service on 18001 101.

Always call 999 if there is a crime in action or immediate threat to life. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, use the textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you’ve pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.

Report to Crimestoppers

Should you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Further information

Updated: 17 October 2023

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