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Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 specifies that public authorities have a duty to notify the Secretary of State of any individual identified in England and Wales as a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking.

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. It often involves people who are trying to escape poverty or discrimination, trying to improve their lives, support their families.

Traffickers and slave masters use whatever ways they can to pressure, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

This can include violence and threats, forcing people into debt, and is always about controlling people to exploit them for financial or personal gain.

They may use concerns about an individual’s immigration status or worries that their families may be at risk if they resist.

Human trafficking is the process by which people become trapped and exploited. It does not have to involve travel, although people may be moved across borders or into countries.

Safeguarding adults duties apply where a victim of modern slavery has care and support needs, and as a result of those needs is unable to protect themselves from abuse or harm. For example, someone with a learning disability may be employed but work long hours for very little pay, the employer taking advantage of them.


What might it look like?

  • Sexual exploitation including prostitution and ‘adult entertainment’
  • Forced labour – commonly in agricultural, construction, food processing, hospitality industries, factories, car washers and nail bars – farming, textile production
  • Domestic servitude
  • Organ harvesting
  • Forced criminality – includes cannabis cultivation, street crime, forced begging, burglary, metal theft and benefit fraud

How might you recognise it?

People may be: 

  • Distrustful of authorities
  • Expression of fear or anxiety
  • Signs of psychological trauma
  • Acts as if instructed by another
  • Injuries apparently a result of assault or controlling measures
  • Evidence of control over movement, either as an individual or as a group
  • Found in or connected to a type of location likely to be used for exploitation
  • Restriction of movement and confinement to the workplace or to a limited area
  • Limited social contact / contact with family
  • Unable or reluctant to give details of accommodation or work address
  • Perception of being bonded by debt
  • Money deducted from salary for food or accommodation
  • Threat of being handed over to authorities
  • Threats against the individual or their family members
  • No or limited access to bathroom or hygiene facilities, or medical care
  • Passport or documents held by someone else
  • Being placed in a dependency situation

Norfolk Anti-Slavery Network

In 2020, the Norfolk Anti-Slavery Network was set up with support from the Red Cross. NSAB are proud to be part of this partnership, supporting the work raising awareness of the issues, improving recognition of those affected, and promoting effective responses where modern slavery and or human trafficking is found.


  • to help prevent ‘hidden’ crimes which are traditionally under-reported and, crucially, to support those who are victims of such crimes.


  • To provide leadership and to strengthen and enhance the multi-agency response to modern slavery and human trafficking in Norfolk

Norfolk Anti-Slavery Network website


National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is the UK’s system for identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery. Potential victims of modern slavery are referred into the NRM, and if the Single Competent Authority within the Home Office assesses there to be reasonable grounds to believe that the individual is a victim of modern slavery, the individual will receive a minimum of 45 days of support as a recovery and reflection period, delivered through the Victim Care Contract (VCC).

Following a positive Conclusive Grounds (CG) decision, victims will be exited from VCC support only when appropriate to do so. Victims will receive at least 45 days of support during the move-on period during which the support provider will help the victim transition out of support The VCC provides adult victims in England and Wales access to a tailored and specialised package of care and support. This includes but is not limited to accommodation; material assistance; counselling; access to mental, physical and dental health services; and signposting to legal support. The Salvation Army is the Prime Contractor of the VCC and provides support through their 13 subcontractors.

Unseen UK

Unseen is a UK charity with its head office in Bristol.

They provide safehouses and support in the community for survivors of trafficking and modern slavery.

They also run the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline and work with individuals, communities, business, governments, other charities and statutory agencies to stamp out slavery for good.

There is more information for frontline workers on their website Unseen UK