What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery can and does have a devastating and lasting impact on victims, children and families in countries all over the world, including our own. It is by its nature a largely hidden crime, but the Government recently estimated that between 10,000 and 13,000 people are currently being subjected to some form of modern slavery in the UK – and, although some may be more vulnerable to exploitation than others, it is an issue unrestricted by age, gender or background. The term ‘Modern slavery’ captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include, but are not limited to: • Trafficking involving the transportation, recruitment, receipt or harbouring of people for purposes of exploitation (sexual, forced labour, slavery or organ removal) using immoral means, including violence, threats, deception, coercion, abduction or bribery. Trafficking is not to be confused with smuggling, which is initiated with the wilful agreement of a person actively seeking to move without detection, so does not involve coercion or threats

  • Sexual exploitation including sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the production of child pornography
  • Forced labour with victims being forced to work long hours for little or no pay, in poor conditions and under threat of violence to them and/or their families
  • Domestic servitude where a victim is forced to work in a private household, usually performing domestic chores and childcare duties
  • Child slavery In addition to forced child labour, this can involve child trafficking, forced marriage and child domestic servitude
  • Criminal exploitation The exploitation of a person to commit a crime or combination of crimes, such as shoplifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities.

Common to all of the above will be the abuse of power or vulnerability to coerce people into a life of exploitation, servitude and inhumane treatment for the personal or financial gain of others.  An important distinction between children and adults, however, is in the issue of consent to their treatment.  In cases of child slavery, consent is irrelevant.  It is a consideration in identifying adult, however – but is also irrelevant if the adult has been deceived or coerced The internationally recognised definition for human trafficking is the Palermo Protocol definition.  In order to prove an offence of human trafficking, three elements need to be established:

In the UK in 2015 3,266 people were identified as potential victims of trafficking. This is a 40% increase on 2014.

Of the 3,266 30% were children (982).

42%of reported trafficking victims were victims of sexual exploitation .

24%of reported domestic servitude victims were children 36%were subjected to forced labour.

Modern slavery has a huge economic impact, not just social It was recently estimated to cost the UK over £890m a year.


Modern Slavery

53% of those victims were female 47% of victims were male

The 3,266 potential victims identified originated from 103 different countries The six most prevalent were: Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Romania, the United Kingdom and Poland.


How it can happen?

Perpetrators of modern slavery constantly adapt their tactics to evade detection.  They will target vulnerable, hidden or marginalised groups, with many victims coming from backgrounds that make them reluctant to seek help from authorities.  These can include; unaccompanied, internally displaced children; children accompanied by an adult who is not a relative or legal guardian; young women and girls; former victims of modern slavery or trafficking; adults who are vulnerable due to substance misuse issues, debts (in their country of origin or as a result of their illegal migration); mental health problems or learning disabilities; homelessness, or other factors It is important to note – as statistics on the previous page illustrate – that victims of modern slavery originate from the UK and overseas.  However, there are relatively common methods often adopted for those who are trafficked and exploited from abroad Typically, a person trafficked and exploited from overseas comes from a situation of poverty and lack of opportunity and gets an offer of an apparently good job, with good working conditions, in the UK.  Often, the victim has to take a loan from an agent to pay for the journey and towards ‘recruitment fees.’  When the person arrives in Britain, the job and the conditions they are faced with bear no resemblance to those they were promised.  Their passport is taken away and they are told that it will only be returned once their loan is repaid.  However, given the victim’s lack of control or clarity around how much, or even if, they will be paid, this represents an indeterminate amount of time Violence and threats – against the victim, their children and their family at home – are common practice, and traffickers will often know and target the community they come from and know their families.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 The Modern Slavery Act, the first of its kind in Europe, received Royal Assent in March 2015.  The Act consolidates slavery and trafficking offences and introduces tougher penalties and sentencing rules. Changes will ensures that the National Crime Agency, the police and other law enforcement agencies have the power they need to pursue, disrupt and bring to justice those engaged in human trafficking and slavery, servitude and forced labour.  It also introduced measures to enhance the protection of victims.

A new Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner has been appointed whose role it is to encourage good practice in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of slavery and human trafficking offences, as well as the identification of victims of those offences. This new legislation applies to the whole of the UK.

The Modern Slavery Act also extends the scope of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) framework.  The NRM exists to identify potential victims, ensure that they receive appropriate and effective support and make it easier for the agencies involved to co-operate and share information.  Further details are outlined in the ‘How to report suspicions’ section on the final page of this document – along with details of the anonymous duty to notify (MS1) form should an adult victim be unwilling to be identified and provide their personal details Indicators of trafficking and slavery are contained within the form and there is no minimum requirement for justifying a referral, so staff are encouraged to do so.  All completed NRM forms are sent to the UK Human Trafficking Centre, which will assess and make a decision on whether an individual is a victim of human trafficking or modern slavery The powers introduced by the new Modern Slavery Act in no way contradict or supersede those already available through existing legislation, such as the Children Acts 1989 and 2004, which should also be considered in conjunction with it.


Modern Slavery Strategy

The Act enables the Secretary of State to actively regulate agencies in relation to the identification and support of victims – a new duty to notify authorities of concerns, for example;

  • Allows for the introduction of independent child trafficking advocates
  • Introduces new civil restriction orders, including a new reparation order to encourage the courts to compensate victims where assets are confiscated from perpetrators
  • Brings in a new statutory defence for victims who are compelled to commit crimes and requires businesses over a certain size and threshold to disclose, annually, what action they have taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in the business or supply chain.


Our vision

Our vision will be delivered through four priorities:

  1. Embed the Modern Slavery Act into mainstream activity.
  2. Improve awareness, understanding and identification.
  3. Develop a positive protection and support system for victims.
  4. Hold perpetrators to account and promote appropriate prosecutions.


Priority 1: Embed the Modern Slavery Act into mainstream activity


Modern slavery involves the abuse and coercion of vulnerable people.  As such, it constitutes a safeguarding issue and, learning from our work around CSE, Forced Marriage, FGM and radicalisation, agencies across Cheshire are well placed to tackle it effectively. However, it presents a great number of overlapping issues and crimes which require a strong, coherent partnership response.  It is essential that all of us across the public sector recognise that protecting people from slavery and exploitation is everybody’s business, and part of our day job as professionals who work continuously to safeguard and support those at risk.


Secure the strategic commitment of all relevant local agencies to protect victims and prosecute perpetrators.

Maximise links between the policies and strategies that deal with exploitation, homelessness and other relevant issues.

Ensure that information is shared, both locally and nationally, through the NRM and other channels for effective co-ordination and services.


Priority 2: Improve awareness, understanding and identification


Modern slavery is a hidden and greatly under-reported crime.  The overwhelming majority, if not all, victims are extremely vulnerable, scared and feel powerless to speak out, so it is up to professionals and members of the community to identify and protect them.  This can only happen if we understand that modern slavery is happening, recognise the signs and know what to do when we see them.


Raise awareness across our communities, and faith and voluntary sectors, to help them identify where there might be issues and ensure that they know how to report.

Train our staff to recognise the signs of modern slavery and know what to do about it, including a consistent use of the National Referral Mechanisms.

Maintain an awareness of risks and put measures in place to mitigate them appropriately and effectively.


Priority 3: Develop a positive protection and support system for adult and child victims


The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) grants a minimum of 45-day reflection and recovery period for victims of human trafficking or modern slavery.  However, longer term support is extremely inconsistent locally – as it is across the UK – and the vulnerabilities of victims are often re-exploited as soon as protection and support interventions come to an end.  It is therefore crucial that we create a system which enables not only effective but sustainable support for everyone affected, understanding the particular risks associated with them.


Ensure there are clear and robust safeguarding policies in place to identify and support those affected.

Establish a consistent and co-ordinated operational partnership approach to deal effectively with reports and disclosures as they arise, with consideration of the potential impact of public service intervention.

Develop a comprehensive range of services and other options capable of effectively supporting people throughout their recovery.


Priority 4: Hold perpetrators to account and promote appropriate prosecutions


Modern slavery can and does have a devastating and lasting impact on victims, children and families. Those who perpetrate it must be held to account, in order to protect those who are being harmed and to reduce the risk of future exploitation.


Ensure that partners are able to share information about perpetrators and victims as effectively as possible.

Provide victims with practical and emotional support throughout the criminal justice process.

Actively monitor prosecution rates, including appropriate benchmarks from other similar areas, to highlight themes and trends and ensure that we are resolute in our disruption of offenders.

Signs of human trafficking and modern slavery

Identification of victims is crucially important for a variety of reasons. As the case studies on Page 4 illustrate, large scale organised activity is resulting in the exploitation of people living and working in our area. Some of those people, and undoubtedly many more than we have been able to identify, are also victims of modern slavery; but most do not consider themselves to be victims.  It is imperative that we do not allow this abusive behaviour to be thought of as acceptable – or even normal – by them, simply because others, knowing how vulnerable they are, have used it to their own advantage.

There is no definitive list of signs or factors that will bring this form of exploitation to light, but it is useful to be aware of some general indicators which could be present. A person, or people, may:

  • Be confined or limited to a particular home, workplace or other area
  • Not have the appropriate clothing for the work they are being expected to do
  • Have injuries consistent with abuse or other controlling measures • Appear undernourished or particularly unkempt
  • Have limited or no contact with friends and family
  • Appear in fear of their employer, or of authority – or display signs of psychological trauma, such as PTSD
  • Have limited or no access to bathroom facilities
  • Be unable to provide common documentation such as a passport or payslip in the context of trying to access products or services
  • Be a child who is missing from home • Be involved in gang and/or drug-related activity
  • Have migrated to the country to seek asylum
  • Be homeless
  • It may also/alternatively be that a property is a cause for concern; potentially overcrowded; curtains always drawn; letterbox sealed; has CCTV installed; or restricts access All of the above must be considered against the circumstances that a person might reasonably expect of the situation at that time. Some or none of the above may be present, but suspicions should be reported.


How to report suspicions?

There is a legal duty on certain agencies(listed below and known as ‘first responders’) to report victims of modern slavery to the Secretary of State. Cases involving children must always be referred through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which is in place to help support potential victims. Adult victims should always be offered – but are not obliged to accept – support via an NRM referral, which can only be made with their signed consent. However, the duty to notify the Home Office still applies if adult victims are unwilling to provide their details, and this should be done through an MS1 form. NRM forms (separate forms for children and adults) www.gov.uk/government/publications/human-trafficking-victims-referral-and-assessmentforms.

MS1 form www.gov.uk/government/publications/duty-tonotify-the-home-office-of-potential-victims-ofmodern-slavery These forms only apply to the ‘first responder’ public authorities detailed in section 52 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, which include local authorities, the police, Salvation Army and NSPCC. www.nationalcrimeagency.gov.uk/aboutus/what-we-do/specialist-capabilities/uk-humantrafficking-centre/national-referral-mechanism. However, other agencies and the public are still encouraged to report suspicions and can do so by calling the Modern Slavery Helplineon 0800 0121 700, the Policeon 101(999 in an emergency) or Crimestoppersanonymously on 0800 555 111. Residential providers and foster carers will receive specific support around trafficking for individual children and young people to reduce risks and protect them from harm.