1. Introduction

‘Modern slavery is an umbrella term, that encompasses human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced labour.

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 their freedom.’ (Local Government Association, 2018: p6)

Servitude is similar to slavery, as a person is obliged to provide a service to another which is imposed upon them, but there is no sense of ‘ownership’.

Forced work is work or provision of a service which a person has to undertake under threat of a penalty. and where the person has not offered themselves voluntarily. Forced work exists in a number of different industries including manufacturing, food processing, agriculture and hospitality.

Human trafficking is when men, women and children are moved from one place and forced into exploitation. Their forced movement could be from one country to another, but may also be within a country – from one city to another or even within just a few streets. A person is a victim of human trafficking even if they have not been exploited but that is the intention of such movement.

The scale of modern slavery in the UK is significant. Modern slavery crimes are being committed across the country and there has been year on year increases in the number of victims identified. The Home Office estimated there were between 10,000 – 13,000 potential victims in 2013 (LGA, 2017).

The Care and Support Statutory Guidance (p.234) listed modern slavery as a type of abuse. This is the first time that it has been categorised as a safeguarding adults concern, as it recognises the abusive nature of such situations.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 specifies that public authorities have a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any individual identified in England and Wales as a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking. For more information on local support, contact the local safeguarding adults team at the local authority or the local police force via their switchboard.

2. Human Trafficking

Trafficking is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion. It can include abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of trust or the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime).

Human trafficking is actively being used by serious and organised crime groups. This problem has a global reach, covering a wide number of countries. It is run like a business with the supply of people and services to a customer, all for the purpose of making a profit. Traffickers exploit the social, cultural or financial vulnerability of the victim and place huge financial and ethical obligations on them. They control almost every aspect of the victim’s life, with little regard for the victim’s welfare and health.

3. Victims

Whilst modern slavery is a global problem, there are many victims living in the United Kingdom (UK). They may have been brought here from overseas, but may also be vulnerable UK citizens who are forced to work illegally against their will or who are otherwise exploited.

There is no typical victim of slavery – victims can be men, women and children of all ages and ethnicities, across the population. But it is usually more prevalent amongst the most vulnerable, minority or socially excluded groups in UK society.

3. Types of Slavery

There are a number of different types of modern slavery.

4. Signs of Slavery

People can be subjected to more than one type at once. The most common forms are:

  • Sexual exploitation: victims may be forced into prostitution, pornography or lap dancing for little or no pay. They may be deprived of their freedom and be subject to threats and violence.
  • Labour exploitation: victims have to work for little or no pay, and may face violence or threats. If they are foreign nationals, their passports may be confiscated by their exploiters which prohibits their return home. They may be forced to live in terrible conditions.
  • Forced criminality: victims can be forced into illegal activities, including pick pocketing, shop lifting, cannabis cultivation, exploitation across county lines and other activities. The Modern Slavery Act provides for a defence for victims who have been forced into criminality.
  • Organ harvesting: victims are trafficked for their internal organs (typically kidneys or the liver) to be taken (‘harvested’) for transplant.
  • Domestic servitude: victims work in a household where they may be ill-treated, humiliated, subjected to long and tiring hours, forced to work and live in very difficult conditions or forced to work for little or no pay. Sometimes, forced marriage can lead to domestic servitude.
  • Debt bondage can be a part of many forms of exploitation. Debts may result due to the exploitation itself, in relation to accommodation and / or travel fee. Victims often have little or no control over their debt and little or no way to pay it back. Costs may be taken directly from their wages, leading to further debts accumulating. A person may be forced to work to pay off the debt; it can also be used to control the victim and keep them enslaved.
  • Other forms of exploitation include:
    • forced marriage: where people are forced into marriage for a range of reasons including exploiting their rights as a result of citizenship, or for domestic servitude;
    • financial exploitation: for example where benefits are falsely claimed and / or bank accounts opened by perpetrators on behalf of their workers; workers’ wages being paid directly to exploiters by companies who think they are paying a worker.

5. Indicators of Modern Slavery

The following indicators for victims of modern slavery are taken from Appendix A, Indicators of Modern Slavery Modern Slavery: A Council Guide (Local Government Association).

5.1 Adult victims

  • distrustful of authorities;
  • expression of fear or anxiety;
  • signs of psychological trauma (including post-traumatic stress disorder);
  • the person acts as if instructed by another;
  • injuries apparently a result of assault or controlling measures;
  • evidence of control over movement, either as an individual or as a group;
  • found in or connected to a type of location likely to be used for exploitation;
  • restriction of movement and confinement to the workplace or to a limited area;
  • passport or documents held by someone else;
  • lack of access to medical care;
  • limited social contact/isolation;
  • limited contact with family;
  • signs of ritual abuse and witchcraft (juju);
  • substance misuse;
  • person forced, intimidated or coerced into providing services;
  • doesn’t know home or work address;
  • perception of being bonded by debt;
  • money is deducted from salary for food or accommodation;
  • threat of being handed over to authorities;
  • threats against the individual or their family members;
  • being placed in a dependency situation;
  • no or limited access to bathroom or hygiene facilities;
  • self identifies as victim.

5.2 Indicators of forced or compulsory labour

  • no or limited access to earnings or labour contract;
  • excessive wage reductions, withholding wages, or financial penalties;
  • dependence on employer for a number of services for example work, transport and accommodation;
  • any evidence workers are required to pay for tools, food or accommodation via deductions from their pay;
  • imposed place of accommodation;
  • found in poor living conditions;
  • evidence of excessive working days or hours;
  • deceived about the nature of the job, location, or employer;
  • employer or manager unable to produce documents required when employing migrant; labour;
  • employer or manager unable to provide record of wages paid to workers;
  • poor or non-existent health and safety equipment or no health and safety notices;
  • any other evidence of labour laws being breached.

5.3 Indicators of domestic servitude

  • living with and working for a family in a private home or place of accommodation;
  • not eating with the rest of the family or being given only leftovers, or inadequate food;
  • no private sleeping place or sleeping in shared space for example the living room;
  • no private space;
  • forced to work in excess of normal working hours or being ‘on-call’ 24 hours per day;
  • employer reports them as a missing person;
  • employer accuses person of theft or other crime related to the escape;
  • never leaving the house without permission from the employer.

5.4 Indicators of sexual exploitation

  • adverts for sexual services offering individuals from particular ethnic or national groups;
  • sleeping on work premises;
  • movement of individuals between brothels or working in alternate locations;
  • individuals with very limited amounts of clothing or a large proportion of their clothing is ‘sexual’;
  • only being able to speak sexual words in local language or language of client group;
  • having tattoos or other marks indicating ‘ownership’ by their exploiters;
  • person forced, intimidated or coerced into providing services of a sexual nature;
  • person subjected to crimes such as abduction, assault or rape;
  • someone other than the potential victim receives the money from clients;
  • health symptoms (including sexual health issues).

The guidance also gives indicators for spotting signs of modern slavery in children.

6. Identification and Referral

6.1 Taking action

Anyone who suspects slavery is happening should not attempt to let the victim know their situation has been reported it, nor should a professional attempt to confront the traffickers. The safety of the victim and the professional is the first priority.

6.1.1 Immediate threat of significant harm

If it is suspected that someone is in immediate danger, the police should be contacted on 999.

6.1.2 No immediate threat of significant harm

There are a number of options that can be taken:

  • the police can be contacted on 101;
  • Crimestoppers can be contacted: 0800 555 111;
  • the Modern Slavery Helpline can be contacted: 0800 0121 700

Where a professional has information about any slavery victims, they should contact their agreed single point of contact (see Local Contacts).

Where a person is considered incapable of giving informed consent as they lack mental capacity (see Mental Capacity chapter), an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate should be appointed to help them make decisions. The person should still be at the centre of the decision making process.

6.2 Seeking advice

Staff should seek advice using their organisation’s agreed modern slavery response plan, their local police or the Modern Slavery Helpline, if the professional wants to discuss their concerns or is unsure about what action they should take.

7. Duty to Notify the Home Office of Potential Victims of Modern Slavery

National Referral Mechanism Guidance: Adult (England and Wales)

Modern Slavery Victims: Referral and Assessment Forms (HM Government) 

7.1 What is the ‘Duty to Notify’?

Specified public authorities have a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any individual encountered in England and Wales who they believe is a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking. This duty is intended to gather statistics and help build a more comprehensive picture of the nature and scale of modern slavery.

The ‘duty to notify’ provision is set out in Section 52 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, and applies to the following public authorities in England and Wales at the time of publication (additional public authorities can be added through regulations):

  • a chief officer of police for a police area,
  • the chief constable of the British Transport Police Force,
  • the National Crime Agency,
  • a county council,
  • a county borough council,
  • a district council,
  • a London borough council,
  • the Greater London Authority,
  • the Common Council of the City of London,
  • the Council of the Isles of Scilly,
  • the Gangmasters Licensing Authority.

Home Office staff within UK Visas and Immigration, Border Force and Immigration Enforcement are also required, as a matter of Home Office policy, to comply with the duty to notify.

7.2 What information should be provided?

The information that must be provided is set out in the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (Duty to Notify) Regulations 2015. This information can be provided by completing a National Referral Mechanism (NRM) form or a Duty to Notify Referral form. The NRM form should be used if the victim is an adult and consents to provide their personal details and would like to receive Government funded specialist support, or for a child victim (where consent is not needed). NRM forms and associated guidance are available on the gov.uk website, as linked above.

A Duty to Notify Referral form should only be used if the potential adult victim wants to remain anonymous and does not want specialist support (or if you are not able to contact the potential victim and do not know their personal details). The MS1 form is available on the gov.uk website (as linked above).

7.3 The Duty to Notify Referral Form

7.3.1 Mandatory information

Part A (contact details for the person making the referral) and Part B (anonymous information about the potential victim) can be used to provide anonymous information about the potential victim. If you are responding on behalf of one of the public authorities listed above, anonymous information must be provided in response to all questions marked with an asterisk (*).

7.3.2 Voluntary Information

Part C (additional information about the potential victim) must only be completed if the adult potential victim has explicitly consented to the information being provided or if they are a child (so consent is not needed). You should sign the form to indicate that you have explained the duty to notify and received the adult potential victim’s consent to share their details. If you are completing this form electronically, you can type your name to sign the form.

Where an adult has not consented to the referral, then the notification must not include information anywhere in the form that identifies the person, or enables the person to be identified (either by itself or in combination with other information). In very exceptional cases, this might require sections in Part B to be left blank – for example, where the person’s nationality is so rare in the relevant police area that it could lead to their identification.

Part D (other relevant information) should be used to provide any extra information which you think might help law enforcement bodies to investigate this case or build a better picture of modern slavery in the UK.  As with the rest of the form the information must not identify the person unless they have consented to providing their personal details. This duty is not retrospective and so public authorities do not need to notify the Home Office of victims first encountered prior to 1 November 2015.  Where a case has already been referred into the NRM prior to 1 November 2015 and the individual is encountered again, a “duty to notify” notification is not required.

7.4 How to notify the Home Office

Where an individual is being referred to the NRM, the NRM referral form will be sufficient in itself to satisfy the duty to notify. Where an NRM referral is not being made, the Duty to Notify Referral form should be completed online.  This information should be provided as soon as practicable. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, the Duty to Notify Referral form should be completed within one month of encountering a victim.

7.5 Notification of a child victim

Although the duty to notify applies to both children and adults, children do not need to consent to enter the NRM, so potential child victims should be referred into the NRM in all cases (rather than making an Duty to Notify Referral notification).

7.6 Multiple referrals

If you know that another organisation has already notified the Home Office of the potential victim you have encountered under the ‘duty to notify’, then an additional notification is not required. If possible and appropriate, you should contact other agencies who have previously encountered the individual to check whether a referral has already been made.

7.7 How the information will be used

The information provided will be used to build a better picture of modern slavery in England and Wales, and to improve our law enforcement response, by sharing the information with the National Crime Agency and other law enforcement agencies.

7.8 Police referrals and safeguarding

A duty to notify referral should not be relied upon to safeguard victims. Existing safeguarding processes should still be followed in tandem with a notification.  If you are submitting an NRM form to satisfy the duty to notify, you should refer to the NRM referrals section of the Victims of Modern Slavery: Frontline Staff Guidance.

If you are submitting an Duty to Notify Referral form you should also separately refer the case to the police. You should do this as soon as possible, before you submit the Duty to Notify Referral form. You should then indicate on the Duty to Notify Referral form that this referral has been made. This process is different to the police referrals process for NRM forms where the Competent Authority or Case Management Unit will make most police referrals (see NRM Guidance).

The referral to the police is not part of the duty to notify, but necessary for safeguarding the victim and for the prevention and detection of crime. The referral should be made to the police force where the alleged offence took place. If this is not known, or the offence occurred abroad, it should be to the police force where the potential victim was identified. Even if the Duty to Notify Referral form is anonymous, the referral to the police should include any relevant information which may help the police to investigate the crime and safeguard the victim, including the potential victim’s name. This is also true for any safeguarding referrals made directly to relevant agencies.

7.9 Voluntary notifications by agencies not covered by the duty

Organisations, including non-governmental organisations, are also encouraged to put forward notifications where they encounter a potential victim of modern slavery who cannot enter the NRM. The process and policy above should be followed by such organisations wishing to make voluntary notifications.