Modern Slavery

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is the recruitment, movement, harbouring or receiving of children, women or men through the use of force, coercion, abuse of vulnerability, deception or other means for the purpose of exploitation.  It is a crime under the Modern Slavery Act 2015.  This page provides guidance in relation to adult victims.  For information on responding to a child or young person, please view the modern slavery page on the Redbridge Safeguarding Children Partnership (RSCP) website.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • forced to work through coercion, or mental or physical threat;
  • trapped and controlled by an ’employer’, through mental or physical abuse or threat of abuse;
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’;
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.

There are different features of modern slavery including:

  • ownership being exercised over an individual;
  • servitude which involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion or pressure;
  • forced labour involving work extracted from someone under the menace of a penalty for which the individual has not voluntarily offered themselves;
  • human trafficking including arranging or facilitating travel of another both within a country and internationally with a view to exploiting them.

Types of Slavery and Human Trafficking

Common examples are:

  • Sex Trafficking – women, men or children that are forced into the commercial sex industry.
  • Domestic Servitude – ’employees’ working in private homes under pressure and being told that they have no option to leave.
  • Forced Labour – individuals being compelled to work under the threat of violence and for no pay, being treated as ‘property’.
  • Bonded Labour – individuals being completed to work in order to repay a debt and unable to leave until the debit is repaid.
  • County Lines – individuals being used by criminal networks and gangs to move drugs between areas.

Indicators of Modern Slavery

Some general indicators that an adult is experiencing modern slavery include:

  • Expression of fear or anxiety
  • Poor mental health, low self-esteem or mood
  • Distrust or fear of authorities
  • Signs of psychological trauma, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Injuries indicative of an assault or because they have not had access to the right equipment or protective clothing whilst at work
  • Evidence of control over movement, e.g. not having access to passport or ID documents; not knowing their address
  • Lack of access to medical care
  • Appearing to be suffering from neglect, possibly through lack of access to washing facilities or clean clothing

Legislation & Statutory Guidance

The Nationality and Borders Act 2022 took effect on 1 February 2023.  This has implications on modern slavery.  The Home Office published updated statutory guidance on Modern Slavery on 31 January 2023:

Getting Support

If you feel that an adult is a victim or at risk of modern slavery, contact the Local Authority on 020 8708 7333 (Option 2) or by e-mailing:  The Council, as a ‘First Responder’ can consider using the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) to report the case and refer potential victims for support and protection or completing a duty to notify (DtN).  Other ‘first responders’ include the policeThe Salvation Army, Unseen and the National Crime Agency.  A full list is available here.

The National Modern Slavery Helpline can be contacted via 0800 0121700 or a concern can be raised using the on-line form.

If someone is at an immediate and serious risk, call the Police on 999.

A sheet containing contact information for agencies that work to support victims of modern slavery can be downloaded via the link below:


The Home Office provide guidance on responding to modern slavery, using the National Referral Mechanism and some promotional materials including the guide below:

The Human Trafficking Foundation work with the Government and other organisations to develop policy and responses to the issue. The Foundation has produced a directory of services based in London that offer support to survivors of modern slavery.

The Local Government Association (LGA) provides guidance specifically for Local Authorities and a maturity matrix to assist in the development of work on modern slavery.


The RSAB and RSCP have produced a resource listing a range of learning resources on the topic of modern slavery, divided up into the time required to undertake them:


The following dates in 2023 are awareness days/events with particular publicity campaigns aiming to raise awareness of modern slavery:

Information will be available nearer to each date.