Modern slavery is taking place in plain sight across London's high streets. It involves workers being owned by an 'employer' who uses mental or physical abuse to control them.
Victims are are often dehumanised and bought and sold as 'property'. Their freedoms are restricted and often they have been trafficked.
The Walk Free Foundation estimates there are up to 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK. Charity Hestia supports slavery victims in London and the surrounding area. It has identified five key signs of modern slavery.
What are the signs of modern slavery?
- Poor physical appearance
A victim may look malnourished or may have physical injuries. They may have inadequate clothing.
- Lack of contact with others
Someone who is a victim of modern slavery may not hold eye contact with others, and may be reluctant to speak to anyone. They may avoid contact through fear of violence or deportation.
Do they seem controlled by others? They might not travel alone or leave their house or place of work.
- Absence of belongings
Someone who is a victim of modern slavery may not have any identification or a passport. They may only have a few possessions, or wear the same clothes every day.
- Poor living environment
Does their working environment look unsafe? Their accommodation might be overcrowded, dirty or unsuitable for those living there.
- What to do if something does not seem right:
Call the police on 999 if you believe someone is in immediate danger
Contact the Salvation Army's 24/7 referral line on 0300 303 8151
Contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700
The Government has a leaflet in 11 languages outlining support available for victims of modern slavery. Access it here.