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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Is the person afraid of the authorities? Are they scared of removal or what might happen to their families?
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.
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.
Are there a number of unrelated children found at one address? Does the child move location frequently?
Missing, altered or false documentation is common.
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.
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?
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.