The definition of Modern Slavery is quite broad: not just ‘owning’ another person, but also forcing someone to work and not allowing them to leave, either by coercion, such as withholding documents, or using threats, and human trafficking.
It happens in the UK: a Home Office report in 2018 estimated there were between 10,000 and 13,000 victims here during 2013 and that it’s increasing.
Where is it happening?
It is happening all over, and not just among sex workers (the highest sector); people, often vulnerable people, are trapped into crop picking, working in factories, domestic work and many other jobs.
The second highest sector in the UK prone to modern slavery is construction, and that’s an area where individuals can make a difference: one big risk area is householders who want to reduce costs for building work or resurfacing their drive and are happy to pay cash-in-hand. This undercuts legitimate businesses and makes it much easier for labour to be exploited.
What you can do
Raise awareness through your WI, report any evidence you see and encourage others to do so as well.
Signs that someone might be a victim of modern slavery include:
- Showing signs of injury, abuse and malnourishment
- They look unkempt, are often in the same clothing and have poor hygiene
- Appearing to be under the control and influence of others
- Living in cramped, dirty, overcrowded accommodation
- They have no access or control of their passport or identity documents
- Appearing scared, avoiding eye contact, and being untrusting
- They may allow others to speak for them when addressed directly, rather than speak for themselves.
- They’re collected very early and/or returned late at night on a regular basis
- May have inappropriate clothing for the work they are performing, and/or a lack of safety equipment
- May be isolated from the local community and their family
- They travel only with other workers
For more information and how to report if you have a concern: