Modern Slavery

What is Modern Slavery?

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity.

Definition of Modern Slavery

The following definitions are encompassed in within the term ‘Modern Slavery’ for the purposes of the Modern Slavery Act 2015

They are:

  • ‘Slavery’ is where ownership is exercised over a person
  • ‘Human trafficking’ concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them
  • ‘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 


Slavery is the commodification and exploitation of people for financial gain.

Someone in slavery includes:

  • Forcing a person to work against their will through mental or physical threat
  • Enforcing restrictions on a persons’ freedom of movement
  • Dehumanising the person, treated the person as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’
  • Owned or controlled by an ‘employer’, usually through physical or mental abuse or the threat of abuse

Human Trafficking

Human trafficking is a form of modern slavery. Human trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud, coercion, abduction or deception with the aim of exploiting them.  

For the purpose of exploitation, this includes (but is not exhaustive)

  •  Slavery (or similar)
  • Forced labour
  • Prostitution
  • Other sexual exploitation
  • Servitude etc
  • Organ harvesting (removal of organs)

Victims of trafficking are traded for financial gain either within their own countries or internationally. Trafficked people have little choice in what happens to them and often suffer abuse due to violence and threats made against them or their families. It is a common misconception that trafficking has to include crossing a county border. Movement can be as little as from one street to another.


Servitude is an obligation to provide one’s services that are imposed by the use of coercion and is to be linked with the concept of ‘slavery’ described above (Siladin v France, ECHR (2005)  

Domestic servitude is a specific form of labour exploitation covering nannies, carers, housekeepers etc. Victims of domestic servitude can suffer imprisonment within the confines of the home as well as verbal, physical and sexual abuse.

Forced or Compulsory labour

Forced or compulsory labour is al work or service which is extracted from any person under the threat of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself or herself voluntarily. Forced or compulsory labour can happen to both children and adults and in any industry including hospitality, construction, manufacturing, care, agriculture, beauticians and nail bars.

Sexual Exploitation

Sexually exploited people are forced to work in the sex industry. Victims of sexual exploitation can be any age, gender or race. They may have been coerced into sexual slavery due to drug use or debts, groomed by a predator or even sold by relatives.

Children and young people can be trafficked into or within the UK to be sexually exploited. Child sexual exploitation (CSE) is a type of sexual abuse They are moved around the country and exploited and abused by being given things like drugs, money, gifts, status and affection and are forced to take part in sexual activities, often with more than one person. Young people in gangs can also be sexually exploited.  

Organ harvesting

Organ harvesting is an illegal practice where people have their organs surgically removed for sale on the black market. A high percentage of people are forced into it because of debt bondage or have been sold to an organ harvester via human trafficking.

Advice and Support 

The Human Trafficking Foundation has produced several resources to help local authorities improve their response to human trafficking and modern slavery, and support offered to adult survivors.

Modern Slavery Apps  

Modern Slavery Apps  

The Safe Car Wash App helps people to identify rogue operators and report their concerns.

Backed by the Gangmasters’ and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), National Crime Agency (NCA), National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the Local Government Association (LGA), it helps to identify signs of modern slavery in hand car washes.

The Unseen App shows how to recognise the signs of modern slavery and report it.


Useful Contacts & Website Links

If you think you have identified a potential victim of slavery you should do the following:

  • If you believe a person is being trafficked and is in immediate danger you should call 999
  • You can report all concerns and seek advice from the UK’s 24/7 Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline. Frontline professionals, statutory agencies, businesses, potential victims and members of the public can call the Modern and Exploitation Slavery Helpline on 08000 121700 for specialist support and guidance.   

National Referral Mechanism (NRM) process

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate protection and support.

NRM referral or a Duty to Notify referral (DtN)

The online referral system is to be used for referrals into the NRM and for Duty to Notify referrals (DtN). Only staff at designated first responders organisations can make referrals (see First Responder Organisations).

The difference between an NRM referral and a DtN referral relates to the consent of the adult involved.

NRM Guidance

Guidance on the Duty to Notify (DtN) and the National Referral Mechanism for potential victims of modern slavery can be found at:

First Responder Organisations

A ‘first responder organisation’ is an authority that is authorised to refer a potential victim of modern slavery into the National Referral Mechanism. The current statutory and non-statutory first responder organisations are:

  • police forces
  • certain parts of the Home Office:
  • UK Visas and Immigration
  • Border Force
  • Immigration Enforcement
  • National Crime Agency
  • local authorities
  • Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA)
  • health and social care trusts (Northern Ireland)
  • Salvation Army
  • Migrant Help
  • Medaille Trust
  • Kalayaan
  • Barnardo’s
  • Unseen
  • Tara Project (Scotland)
  • New Pathways
  • Refugee Council


A link to an E-Learning module focusing on child victims of modern slavery and how practitioners can safeguard victims is available here-  Home Office E learning module on Child Trafficking & Modern Slavery

Child Victims of Modern Slavery Training Programme

Responding to child victims of modern slavery presents unique challenges for practitioners working on the frontline. This child-specific programme seeks to build on what you already know as a First Responder and/or safeguarding partner. The programme covers child-specific indicators of modern slavery, while also taking a closer look at forms of exploitation that are particularly prevalent. The programme guides the learner through the safeguarding and NRM referral processes, exploring best practice and the specific knowledge required to respond to child cases of modern slavery.

Modern Slavery: Child Focus (

Website Links:

Suffolk Constabulary

Suffolk Constabulary - Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

Government/Home Office

2021 UK annual report on modern slavery - GOV.UK (

National Crime Agency (NCA)

Home Office/Frontline Staff Guidance