Spotting the signs

An important part of the fight against modern slavery is having a public that is informed and aware of the indicators. Please take a minute to familiarise yourself with the signs of modern slavery - it could save someone one day. The following is a list of potential red flags and indicators to help you recognise the signs. Please report any concerns by calling 101 or 999 in an emergency.

Common work and living conditions:

  • Is not free to leave or come and go as they wish
  • Is under 18 and is providing commercial sex acts
  • Is in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager
  • Is unpaid, paid very little, or paid only through tips
  • Works excessively long and/or unusual hours
  • Is not allowed breaks or suffers under unusual restrictions at work
  • Owes a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • Was recruited through false promises concerning the nature and conditions of their work
  • High security measures exist in the work and/or living locations e.g. opaque windows, boarded up windows, bars on windows, barbed wire, security cameras, etc

Poor mental health or abnormal behaviour:

  • Is fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid
  • Exhibits unusually fearful or anxious behaviour after bringing up law enforcement
  • Avoids eye contact

Poor physical health:

  • Lacks health care
  • Appears malnourished
  • Shows signs of physical and/or sexual abuse, physical restraint, confinement, or torture

Lack of control:

  • Has few or no personal possessions
  • Is not in control their own money, no financial records, or bank account
  • Is not in control of their own identification documents (ID or passport)
  • Is not allowed or able to speak for themselves - a third party may insist on being present and/or translating

Other common signs:

  • Claims of just visiting and inability to clarify where they are staying or give an address
  • Lack of knowledge of whereabouts and/or do not know what city they are in
  • Loss of sense of time
  • Has numerous inconsistencies in their story

Signs of sexual exploitation:

  • Underage, inappropriate or risky behaviour
  • Older boyfriends or girlfriends or hanging out with older people
  • Receiving unexplained and expensive gifts like mobile phones and clothes
  • Multiple mobile phones and worrying about losing contact via mobile
  • Changes in the way they dress
  • Going to hotels or other unusual locations to meet friends
  • Getting in/out of different cars driven by unknown people
  • Involved in abusive relationships, intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
  • Not going to school, getting involved with crime, drugs or alcohol abuse
  • Mood swings
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