Modern slavery

Every adult should be free to do the things they want to do and live the life they want to live. If someone’s freedom is taken away and they are forced to work for no pay or in cruel working conditions, there are laws to protect them. Slavery is a crime.

What is modern slavery?

Slavery is not history. It’s something that is still happening today and it’s here in the UK.

Modern slavery victims are often brought from overseas by people traffickers. But vulnerable people who live in the UK can also end up victims of modern slavery.

Modern slavery happens when someone is forced illegally to work against their will. Often victims are forced to work long hours. Sometimes they are subjected to violence and unfair working conditions. Modern slavery can happen in any part of the economy but is more common in prostitution, cannabis farms, nail bars, agriculture, hospitality and domestic servitude.

What are the signs of modern slavery to look out for?

It can be difficult to spot modern slavery because the signs are often hidden. Victims of modern slavery may look underfed, tired, unwashed and untidy, appear frightened or withdrawn and don’t know who to trust or where to get help.

They will seldom be allowed to travel on their own and seem to be under the control and influence of others. They are often scared to interact with people, especially officials, and they may not know their neighbourhood or the area where they work. They might be dropped off and collected for work at unusual times, either very early or late at night.

They might live in dirty, cramped or overcrowded places, live and work at the same address, have few or no personal possessions and wear the same clothes all the time. Victims might have no identification documents or had their travel documents taken away.

Why does modern slavery happen?

Modern slavery is driven by people taking advantage of others. Victims may be vulnerable to exploitation and trafficking because of the circumstances they find themselves in, such as poverty, lack of education, mental health problems or other disabilities, which may make them less able to access help and support.

They may have been brought to the UK because they had limited opportunities in their home country or there were unstable social and political conditions or war in their home country. Often victims face more than one type of abuse and slavery and are sold on by traffickers and then exploited by someone else.

I’m worried about someone. What should I do?

If you are worried that someone has been trafficked, exploited or forced into working for someone else, please get in contact with us. Everyone deserves to be free and live the life they choose. Speak up about modern slavery; it is the right thing to do.

Do not attempt to let the victim know that you have reported it or confront the traffickers. You need to ensure their safety and yours. If someone is at risk of immediate harm, call the emergency services on 999.

If you feel you are a victim of slavery yourself, please get in contact with the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700. Islington Safeguarding Adults Board and Council recognise that some adults are at greater risk of modern slavery due to their age, disability or ill-health.

If you’re worried about someone who is an adult at risk, please contact Islington Access and Advice Service (Adult Social Services) on 020 7527 2299 or email Our Minicom number is 020 7527 6475.

If you are worried about a child who is at risk, please contact Children's Services Contact Team on 0207 527 7400 or email

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