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  1. ITV Report

Modern Slavery: How to spot it?

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte/PA

Modern slavery is defined as slavery, servitude, or forced/compulsory labour. It does not require the person to be moved.

Human trafficking is the movement of people for the purposes of exploiting them in slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, sexual exploitation, the harvesting of their organs, securing services by force, threats or deception, and securing the services of children and vulnerable persons.

Victims of modern slavery and human trafficking are sometimes forced or coerced to commit further crimes such as drug manufacture and drug dealing, or are exploited by criminals in the sex trade or in other criminal activities.

The Modern Slavery Act came into force in 2015. This integrated a number of different aspects of law governing forced labour and child sexual exploitation, as well as increased penalties — some up to life imprisonment. It also introduced a number of new powers, such as the civil Slavery and Trafficking Risk Orders for use without a criminal conviction and Slavery and Trafficking Prevention Orders for use as a bolt-on to a criminal conviction.

  • Spot the Signs:

It’s important to be aware of the warning signs of trafficking or modern slavery, as often the indicators of this type of abuse can be very subtle.

People who have been trafficked may:

  • Show signs of consistent abuse or have untreated health issues;
  • Have no identification documents in their personal possession, and little or no finances of their own;
  • Be unwilling to talk without a more ‘senior’ controlling person around, who may act as their translator;
  • Sleep in a cramped, unhygienic room in a building that they are unable to freely leave;
  • Be unable to leave their place of work to find different employment and fear that bad things may happen if they do;
  • Be charged for accommodation or transport by their employers as a condition of their employment, at an unrealistic and inflated cost which is deducted from their wages.

They may be forced to work in certain types of industries or activities, such as:

  • Factories, farms or fast food restaurants;
  • Domestic service, such as a cleaner or nanny;
  • Street crime, such as pickpocketing or robbery;
  • Services of a sexual nature.

Investigations are complex and lengthy, often concerning many victims and often with an overseas contingent. They may not recognise that what is happening to them is exploitation, they may have mistrust of police, or simply can’t see a way to escape their circumstances.

Victims are made to be hostages of their personal circumstances, and those that their captors create for them. Offenders of modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) are experts in identifying vulnerability and then exploiting it to their gain.