Modern slavery and human trafficking sadly exists in many forms across the country and can affect many different types of people regardless of background, gender, age, or ethnicity.
Types of slavery include:
Child trafficking - young people (under 18) who are moved either internationally or domestically so they can be exploited.
Forced labour – debt bondage - victims are forced to work to pay off debts that realistically they never will be able to. Low wages and increased debts mean not only that they cannot ever hope to pay off the loan, but the debt may be passed down to their children.
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, from car washes and nail bars, to tarmacking, hospitality and food packaging.
Sexual exploitation - victims are coerced to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts against their will, such as prostitution, escort work and pornography. Whilst women and children make up most victims, 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.
Domestic servitude - victims are forced to carry out housework and domestic chores in private households with little or no pay, restricted movement, very limited or no free time and minimal privacy often sleeping where they work. They might be presented as members of their exploiters’ extended family to deflect suspicions of neighbours and the authorities.
Signs that someone may be being kept as a slave could include:
Physical appearance – does the person show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn and neglected? Might they have untreated injuries?
Isolation – is the person rarely allowed to travel on their own, or do they seem under the control or influence of others? Do they rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work?
Poor living conditions – do they live in dirty, cramped, or overcrowded accommodation, or live and work at the same address?
Restricted freedom of movement – does the person have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out? Perhaps the clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work. They may have little opportunity to move freely.
Unusual travel times – are they dropped off or collected for work on a regular basis, either very early or late at night?
Reluctant to seek help – do they avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers? There may be many reasons for this, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.
If you suspect modern slavery is happening around you, whether it is where you live, work or socialise, please report it to your local force by calling 101, or contact Crimestoppers anonymously, on 0800 555 111.