Modern Slavery is a serious and often hidden crime. It comprises slavery, servitude, forced and compulsory labour and human trafficking, which is the harbouring and transportation of individuals for exploitation.

A victim is usually used and exploited for someone else’s gain, without respect for their human rights and involving some element of coercion, such as threats, use of force, deception, or abuse of power so that the victim performs acts or services against their will.

Victims can be any nationality, gender and age but children, young people and vulnerable adults are often targeted.

This includes sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images/videos.

23% of reported trafficking victims in the UK are victims of sexual exploitation.

This involves a victim being forced to work in private households performing domestic chores and childcare duties. Their freedom may be restricted and they may work long hours often for little or no pay, and sleeping where they work.

7% of reported trafficking victims in the UK are victims of domestic servitude.

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.

26% of potential victims of Modern Slavery reported to have been exploited in the UK are subject to forced labour.

This can be understood as the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shoplifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker.

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 highest category of criminal exploitation.

Organ removal; forced begging; forced benefit fraud; forced marriage and illegal adoption.
Under UK legislation, all modern slavery offences can be punishable by a maximum sentence of life imprisonment. Where victims of modern slavery have been forced into committing a crime by the perpetrators, UK legislation states that victims may have a defence against prosecution.

England and Wales: Modern Slavery Act 2015


Call 999 in an emergency situation and 101 if sharing information about a Modern Day Slavery issue.


Call the Modern Day Slavery Helpline 0800 0121 700.
Salvation Army 0300 3038 151.

Helping under 18s

For advice for under 18s, call the NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice Centre 080 880 050 00 or Barnardo’s National Counter-Trafficking Service 0800 043 4303 for hands-on support.

Our support workers are specially trained to listen and understand. We can also give useful information to help you deal with some of the problems a crime has caused and we can offer practical help too, such as contacting any relevant agencies or your behalf.

You can contact us for support in a number of ways. If English is not your first language and you would like some support, call our Supportline and let us know which language you speak. We will call you back with an interpreter as soon as possible. We also welcome calls via Relay UK on 18001 08 08 16 89 111.