Modern Slavery?

Modern Slavery now ranks as the second most profitable worldwide criminal enterprise after the illegal arms trade. Modern slavery is a low risk and high reward crime. Individuals can be exploited many times over resulting in great financial gain for their captor. The United Nations states that those who fall prey to traffickers are often forced to use their bodies for sex, pornography, labour, begging, forced marriage, or organ donation against their will. Victims may be frightened into handing over money or personal documents and are unable or too afraid to ask for help. They may not trust, or know how to access, health or police services. Some may economic migrants or illegal immigrants in the first place, believing that their captors will help them travel to another country or get them jobs.


Due to the hidden nature of the crimes it is often difficult to find victims and catch perpetrators. Many victims don’t identify themselves as victims due to being manipulated and developing attachment to their captor. Others live in fear of their captors. Without a victim coming forward to give evidence, it is difficult to catch and prosecute perpetrators. People who come from contexts of poverty, with limited opportunities or other vulnerabilities are often prayed upon by exploiters. Modern Slavery is therefore attractive to criminals due to the low risk of prosecution. 


Usually Modern Slavery involves organised criminal gangs who are able to exploit many people. Modern Slavery contains elements of deception, coercion and force. Deception may occur when a person receives an offer of an apparently good job and are subsequently exploited. When the person arrives at the place of employment, the job and the conditions they were promised are completely different. This could be a person from abroad being offered a job in the UK or elsewhere, or a UK national being offered employment. 

Coercion and force may occur though the individual's passport and identification  taken away from them.  Violence or threats are common practice, both against the victim as well as their family back home. Sometimes the victim has to take a loan from an agent to pay for the recruitment fees, the journey to the place of transportation, or the accommodation they receive. The victim is often coerced and forced to pay off the debt before they can leave.

[1]http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2017-nrm-statistics/884-nrm-annual-report-2017/file pp11-12

[2] http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/crime-threats/human-trafficking/types-of-human-trafficking

[3]http://www.osce.org/odihr/19223 United Nations’ Protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons (2000) 

[4]http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/publications/national-referral-mechanism-statistics/2017-nrm-statistics/884-nrm-annual-report-2017/file pp11-12

[5] http://www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/crime-threats/human-trafficking/types-of-human-trafficking



Children due to their vulnerability and need for care and protection are at great risk from traffickers, especially when support and care is lacking. Children are particularly vulnerable to exploitation by individual opportunists, traffickers, organised crime groups or people who should protect them. 


In 2017, of the 5145 potential victims of Modern Slavery identified, 2118 were minors. Of those, 676 were British children, making them the most common nationality to experience Modern Slavery. Other nationalities highly represented as potential victims of modern slavery include Vietnam, Albania, Sudan and Eritrea. 


Children can be subjected to any of the exploitative conditions outlined within this booklet. Sexual exploitation was the most frequent form of Modern Slavery experienced by children in the UK in 2017, followed closely by labour exploitation. The International Labour Organisation estimates that worldwide more girls under the age of 16 work in domestic service than in any other category of child labour.