Modern Slavery

The term ‘Modern Slavery’ is an umbrella term, encompassing:

  1. Human trafficking; and
  2. Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour.

Traffickers and slave drivers coerce, deceive and force individuals against their will into a life of abuse, servitude, and inhumane treatment. A large number of active organised crime groups are involved in modern slavery. But it is also committed by individual opportunistic perpetrators. These are for purposes of exploitation, including:

  • criminal exploitation
  • sexual exploitation
  • forced labour
  • slavery
  • servitude
  • similar practices including the removal of organs or body tissue

In 2020/2021, 10,613 potential victims were referred to the Home Office. 47% were children, an increase on previous years. 34%, the majority, were UK nationals. The number of modern slavery offences recorded by the police was 8,354 with a 73.8% conviction rate (2021 UK Annual Report on Modern Slavery)

What can I do?

We can all help end modern slavery by being aware of what to look for. Signs that someone might be a victim of modern slavery include:

  • showing signs of injury, abuse, and malnourishment
  • they look unkempt, are often in the same clothing and have poor hygiene
  • appearing to be under the control and influence of others
  • living in cramped, dirty, overcrowded accommodation
  • they have no access or control of their passport or identity documents
  • appearing scared, avoiding eye contact, and being untrusting
  • they may allow others to speak for them when addressed directly, rather than speak for themselves
  • they’re collected very early and/or returned late at night on a regular basis
  • may have inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing, and/or a lack of safety equipment
  • may be isolated from the local community and their family
  • they travel only with other workers

The above list is not exhaustive and further information on the signs to look out for can be found on the Unseen website.

If you are a victim or know someone who might be contact a first responder:

A first responder is:

Those who can make a referral to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). such as:

  • Police: If you suspect a victim of modern slavery, report it to 101.
  • Adult Social Care: To report modern slavery concerns about an adult with safeguarding concerns, contact Bexley Council on 0208 3037 777 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm) and ask for ‘screeners’ or email
  • Children’s Social Care: Call the Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) on 020 3045 5440 and speak to a social worker (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm). If it’s out of hours, call 020 8303 7777 or 020 8303 7171, or visit the Civic Offices, 2 Watling Street, Bexleyheath DA6 7AT.
  • London Borough of Bexley: To report modern slavery, call Bexley Council on 0208 3037 777 (Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm) and ask for ‘Community Safety Services’ or email
  • Barnado’s Independent Child Trafficking Guardian Service (ICTG): An additional referral mechanism to the NRM for children. Call 0800 0434 303 for advice. Complete an online referral form
  • The Salvation Army: Prime contractor for managing support for adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales who consent to entering the National Referral Mechanism. Can also provide emergency accommodation to victims of modern slavery who are destitute. Confidential referral line: 0300 303 8151 (Open 24/7).
  • Migrant Help: First Responder organisation for the NRM. Provides support, advice and accommodation services for migrants and victims of modern slavery. Call the Free asylum helpline on 0808 8010 503 or email
  • NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice centre: First Responder organisation for referring children to the NRM. Call 0808 800 5000 or email
  • Kalayaan: First Responders organisation for the NRM for migrant domestic workers but also supports those not wishing to enter. Call 020 7243 2942

The UK Modern Slavery Helpline is available 24/7 to offer confidential advice and support for any victim, statutory agency, business, or member of the public regarding modern slavery suspicions or concerns. Trained Helpline Advisers are available to discuss potential signs of modern slavery and options for callers or victims in need.

For professionals seeking the latest advice on how to help potential victims:

For the latest advice on how to end modern slavery, including details about how to refer victims into the national referral mechanism (NRM) and the statutory guidance, please see the Government’s Modern Slavery website.

For information of further services offering support to victims of Modern Slavery please click on the Directory below: