Modern slavery 

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery (and human trafficking) is an organised crime that affects vulnerable men, women and children. It happens all over the world, including Hertfordshire.

A person is trafficked if they are brought to (or moved around) a country by others who threaten, frighten, hurt and force them to do work or other things they don’t want to do.

Forms of modern slavery

Modern slavery can take many forms. The different types of exploitation are:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Child slavery
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced labour
  • Criminal exploitation
  • Organ removal
  • Benefit fraud
  • Forced marriage.

Signs of modern slavery

The signs of modern slavery and exploitation are often hidden, making it difficult to recognise potential victims.

The list below, which is by no means exhaustive, outlines some of the signs that victims may show:

  • The individual is not in possession of their own legal documents (passport, identification and bank account details) 
  • They have old or serious untreated injuries
  • The person looks malnourished, unkempt or appears withdrawn
  • They appear frightened
  • They are unable to answer questions directed at them or speak for themselves as they are accompanied by somebody who speaks for them
  • The individual seems afraid of authorities
  • They perceive themselves to be in debt to somebody.

Signs specific to children

These include:

  • Absent parent or legal guardian. Is the child being cared for by an adult that is not their parent or legal guardian, do they have a poor relationship?
  • A number of unrelated children are found at one address
  • The child has moved location frequently.

Children may not always demonstrate outward signs of distress and may have a ‘bond’ with those exploiting them and have been groomed to not disclose their abuse.

How to report cases of modern slavery or human trafficking

  • In an emergency call 999. In a non-emergency call 101
  • If you have a suspicion, but are unsure whether to act on it, call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership

The Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership was set up to strengthen partnerships and systems to tackle human trafficking in the county. The partnership consists of approximately 40 statutory and non-statutory agencies and charities, including 10 district and borough councils, Hertfordshire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office and Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Tropic.

The Partnership is coordinated by Shiva Foundation, a corporate foundation that aims to tackle and prevent human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.

For more information on the partnership and modern slavery, visit the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.

Trafficking gangs are dangerous criminals. Therefore it is vital that members of the public do not attempt to act on suspicions themselves, as they may put themselves or the victims at risk.

More information

For more information on modern slavery and human trafficking, please visit the Home Office or Unseen websites.