Modern Slavery

Modern Slavery can take many forms including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude and slavery.

Any consent victims have given to their treatment will be irrelevant where they have been coerced, deceived or provided with payment or benefit to achieve that consent.

Children (those aged under 18) are considered victims of trafficking, whether or not they have been coerced, deceived or paid to secure their compliance. They need only have been recruited, transported, received or harboured for the purpose of exploitation.

The term modern slavery captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together.

These include but are not limited to:

Sexual exploitation

This includes but is not limited to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images/videos. 42 per cent of all reported trafficking victims in the UK are victims of sexual exploitation.

Domestic servitude

This involves a victim being forced to work in usually private households, usually performing domestic chores and childcare duties. Their freedom may be restricted and they may work long hours often for little or no pay, often sleeping where they work. Almost a quarter (24 per cent) of reported victims of domestic servitude in the UK are children.

Forced labour

Victims may be forced to work long hours for little or no pay in poor conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It can happen in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars). Often victims are housed together in one dwelling. More than a third (36 per cent) of reported victims of modern slavery are subject to forced labour. One fifth of all reported forced labour victims are children – an increase of 24 per cent since 2012. Three quarters of all reported forced labour victims are male.

Criminal exploitation

This can be understood as the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker. 16 per cent of reported modern slavery victims are also involved in fraud or financial crime where perpetrators force victims to claim benefits on arrival but the money is withheld, or the victim is forced to take out loans or credit cards. Cannabis cultivation is the next most common form of criminal exploitation – and 81 per cent of those exploited are children, most of whom are from Vietnam.

Other forms of exploitation

  • Organ removal
  • Forced begging
  • Forced benefit fraud
  • Forced marriage
  • Illegal adoption.

Indicators of Modern Slavery

Signs of various types of slavery and exploitation are often hidden, making it hard to recognise potential victims. Victims can be any age, gender or ethnicity or nationality. Whilst by no means exhaustive, this is a list of some common signs.

Legal documents

Is the person in possession of their legal documents (passport, identification and bank account details) or are these being held by someone else? Victims will often be forced to use false or forged identity documents.

Medical care

Does the person have old or serious untreated injuries? Have they delayed seeing a healthcare professional, and are they vague, reluctant or inconsistent in explaining how the injury occurred?


Does the person look malnourished, unkempt, or appear withdrawn? Are they suffering physical injuries? Do they have few personal possessions and often wear the same clothes? What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.


Is the person withdrawn or appear frightened, unable to answer questions directed at them or speak for themselves and/or an accompanying third party speaks for them? If they do speak, are they inconsistent in the information they provide, including basic facts such as the address where they live? Do they appear under the control/influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work? Many victims will not be able to speak English.

Fear of authorities

Is the person afraid of the authorities? Are they scared of removal or what might happen to their families?

Debt bondage

Does the victim perceive themselves to be in debt to someone else or in a situation of dependence?


Victims may often encounter authorities whilst being trafficked from one area to another or if found in a situation that potentially criminalises them, such as a police raid or an immigration raid.

Signs specific to child victims

Absent parent or legal guardian

Is the child being cared for by an adult that is not their parent or legal guardian and is the quality of the relationship between the child and their adult carer poor and a reason for concern? Some children may not be attending school or registered with a GP.

Multiple children

Are there a number of unrelated children found at one address? Does the child move location frequently?

Identity documents

Missing, altered or false documentation is common.

Missing children

Children who come into contact with authorities often disappear and are re-trafficked.


Children may not always demonstrate outward signs of distress and may have a ‘bond’ with those exploiting them and have been groomed to not disclose their abuse – however, they are likely to be very scared and traumatised. 

How to spot a property where a victim of Modern Slavery may be held

Outside the property

  • Are there bars covering the windows of the property or are they permanently covered on the inside? Are the curtains always drawn? Do the windows have reflective film or coatings applied to them?
  • Does the entrance to the property have CCTV cameras installed?
  • Is the letterbox sealed to prevent use?
  • Is there any sign that electricity may have been tacked on from neighbouring properties or directly from power lines?

Inside the property

  • Is access to the back rooms of the property restricted or are doors locked?
  • Is the property overcrowded and badly cared for?  

How to spot a business that might be using forced labour


Is the worker wearing inappropriate clothing for their job? Do workers seem to have noticeably poor personal hygiene, fearful or unwilling to engage with the public?


Are there children working on the premises? 

Slough and Modern Slavery

The community safety team recognises the need to identify and prevent modern slavery in Slough. At present the scale of modern slavery in Slough is not known, however we are working with partners and agencies via multi-agency approach in relation to this and also to identify and help victims of this crime.

Efforts are being made to also identify perpetrators of this offence with Thames Valley Police and other enforcement agencies, with the aim of bringing these people and organised crime groups/gangs to justice.

Report crimes of Modern Slavery

  • It is extremely important to be aware that trafficking gangs are dangerous criminals; therefore it is vital members of the public do not attempt to act on suspicions themselves, which may put themselves or the possible victims at risk.
  • In the first instance the point of contact for all modern slavery crimes should be the local police force.
  • If you have information about modern slavery crimes – those who are committing such crimes or where victims are at risk that requires an immediate response, dial 999.
  • If you hold information that could lead to the identification, discovery and recovery of victims in the UK, you can contact the modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700. 

For more information go to the modern slavery website or the Unseen website.

Hope for Justice - Brief overview of local authority duties towards support for adult victims of modern slavery

Safer Slough Partnership - modern slavery reporting guidelines