Modern slavery (also known as human trafficking) is a serious crime which demeans the value of human life. It involves the recruitment and movement of the most vulnerable men, women and children to exploit them in degrading situations for financial rewards for their traffickers. Trafficking often takes place across international borders; but it can also happen within the United Kingdom. Victims might be foreign nationals, but can also include British Citizens. It has a devastating effect not only on the individuals trafficked but also their families who may themselves be subjected to threats or be in debt to traffickers.
Definition in law
All three of the following items must be present in order to meet the definition of trafficking, unless the person trafficked is under 18yrs old, in which case only the ‘act’ and ‘purpose’ are required.
The Act (what is done)
Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.
The Means (how it is done)
Threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, abuse of power or vulnerability, or giving payments or benefits to a person in control of the victim.
The Purpose (why it is done)
For the purpose of exploitation, which includes exploiting the prostitution of others, sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery or similar practices and the removal of organs or body tissue
What does Modern Slavery look like?
There are numerous indicators, examples are:
- Living at workplace with employer
- Housed with multiple people, cramped living space, poor living conditions
- Working long hours; little or no pay
- No identification, travel documents
- Children not at school
- Physical signs of abuse and/or psychological effects
- 3rd Party insists on being present or interpreting
- Specialist Police Officers believe that people are almost certainly trafficked into and out of the country through the Essex ports of Tilbury and Harwich and the Essex airports of Stansted and Southend. Some of these people are forced to work in places like cannabis factories, nail bars, brothels and car washes.
- Victims are unlikely to seek help themselves because they do not always realise that they are being exploited. Also, because victims are often trafficked to foreign countries where they cannot speak the language and have had their travel and identity documents taken off them; they do not know how to communicate their situation to others. It is also quite likely that victims have been told that they, or their families, will be harmed if they tell anyone about their situation or try to escape.
- It is important to remember that modern slavery, or trafficking, does not just relate to people being moved from one country to another but can also include: the transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of people within the same country, county or town and where there is the threat or use of force, coercion, abduction, deception, fraud or abuse of power to achieve this movement
Report a concern
If you are concerned that someone may be the victim of modern slavery or sexual exploitation, or you have suspicions about perpetrators of these crimes you should report it in one of the following ways:
If you think modern slavery / trafficking is putting someone is in immediate danger:
- Call Essex Police on 999
If you want to report suspected human trafficking:
- Call the Metropolitan Police Human Trafficking phone line on 0800 783 2589
If you are an adult victim of human trafficking or want to refer a potential adult victim of human trafficking:
- Call The Salvation Army 24 hour confidential referral helpline on 0300 303 8151
- Call 'Stop the Traffik' 24 hour hotline for victims of human trafficking on 020 7921 4258
- Modern Slavery helpline 0800 0121 700
To report child victims of human trafficking or child victims in danger of being trafficked:
- Call Essex County Council Children's Social Care on 0345 603 7627 (Out of office hours - 0345 606 1212)
- Call the NSPCC Child Trafficking Advice Centre on 0808 800 5000.
Help and support
For more information and advice about safeguarding against modern slavery and human trafficking, see the Related Content on this page.