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Types of abuse

Modern Slavery & Human Trafficking

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern Slavery encompasses Human Trafficking, Forced Labour, Domestic Servitude and can have links to Sexual Exploitation. Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to force individuals into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment. Modern Slavery is a largely covert crime and victims tend to be controlled and hidden away.

Slavery is when someone is:

  • Forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • Owned or controlled by an ’employer’, usually through mental, physical or sexual abuse, or the threat of abuse
  • Dehumanised, treated as a commodity, or bought and sold as property or for the purposes of sexual exploitation
  • Physically constrained or has restrictions on his or her freedom of movement.

What is Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking involves an act of recruiting, transporting, transferring, harbouring or receiving a person through a use of force, coercion or other means, for the purpose of exploiting them.

It takes various forms and affects people of all ages, gender and races, with many victims targeted because of existing vulnerabilities including, learning disability, mental health problems and homelessness.

If you suspect this type of abuse is happening, you should report it to the Police or relevant Local Authority – they will make a referral through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

Poverty, limited opportunities, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances and war are the key driving forces that contribute to the trafficking of victims into, through and across the UK. A common misconception is that victims are transported from another country into the UK, however people can still be trafficked from one Borough to another within the UK.

Common forms of slavery and exploitation

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation is a form of sexual abuse that involves the manipulation and/or coercion of children or adults into sexual activity for the economic gain of others. This includes abuse for the production of images or videos.

Domestic Servitude

Domestic servitude involves the victim being forced to work in private households. Their movement will often be restricted, and they will be forced to perform household tasks such as childcare and housekeeping over long hours and for little, if any, pay.

Forced Labour

Forced labour involves victims being compelled to work very long hours, often in arduous conditions, and to relinquish the majority, if not all, of their wages. Identity documents are retained by the traffickers, meaning the victims cannot leave or prove their identity.

Forced Criminality

Forced Criminality means forcing an adult or a child to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shoplifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities, and give proceeds to the exploiters.

Organ Harvesting

Forcibly removing organs from individuals for sale. 

Forced Begging

Children or adults being forced to beg and hand over the proceeds to the exploiter. Children, including babies and young children, can be used as tools for adults who are begging. 

Benefit Fraud

Forcing people to commit benefit fraud and then forcibly collecting the proceeds or using children as a basis for fraudulently claim Child Benefit and Working Tax Credits.

Other Types of Exploitation

Other activities, such as illegal adoption or forced marriage, may be considered trafficking if they are for the purposes of exploitation. 

Spotting the Signs of Modern Slavery

Please watch this short video on spotting some of the signs of Modern Slavery 

    What to do if you suspect human trafficking or modern slavery affecting a child or adult?

    • If someone is in immediate danger: Call 999
    • If you are suspicious about something you have seen or heard about: Call your local police 101
    • You can contact Sefton Council's Safeguarding team via 0345 140 0845
    • To call free from landlines and mobiles: Modern Slavery Helpline 0800 0121 700 provides daily 24 hour access to information, advice and support for professionals and victims. The helpline is confidential with access to translation services for over 200 languages.
    • For advice and information on any trafficking matter: Call UK Human Trafficking Centre 0844 7782406
    • For victim support: Call Salvation Army 0300 303 8151 (24/7 helpline)
    • For victim reporting: Police Trafficking Helpline 0800 783 2589 or local Police 101
    • For anonymous reporting: Call Crimestoppers 0800 555 111

      unseen app image

    Unseen App

    You can download The Unseen app which makes reporting to the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline even easier.

    The app provides a simple guide to recognising the signs of modern slavery and reporting concerns in confidence. 

    Further Information and Guidance


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