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Modern slavery

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Modern slavery is when a person or group of people are made to take part in forced labour.

Sadly millions of men, women and children across the world are forced to work without pay and our aim is to stop this happening in Cambridgeshire.

If you are worried about someone or suspect modern slavery activity, you should report modern slavery activity.

Types of modern slavery

Modern Slavery typically exists due to the increase in demand for cheap products, labour and services. The signs of slavery can often be hard to spot, which makes it difficult for us to recognise victims around us.

Sexual exploitation

This is a growing industry in the UK and can involve using men, women or children for sexual purposes, usually in exchange for cash or favours between customers and the trafficker or agent.

Some examples of where this can usually take place include bars, massage parlours, the pornography industry or in forced marriages.

Enforced labour

Victims are forced into work or other services against their will, often under threat of violence or some other form of punishment. They are often treated as 'owned' by their employers and their freedom is restricted.

A 'debt bondage' may often be imposed where the trafficker leads the victim to believe that they must work to pay for the cost of their travel into the UK. However, in reality, the victim cannot pay the ‘debt’ off as the amount owed is set at an extortionate rate. Some examples of forced work include farming, fisheries, the building trade, restaurants or care homes.

Domestic servitude

Victims work for and live with their employer. They often believe that they must work to pay off their travel costs into the UK, but these are usually set at an extortionate amount by the trafficker, making it impossible to pay off.

Their movements are restricted and their passport is taken away from them. They are told stories of local police brutality or corruption by their traffickers and employers to keep them fearful.

Organ harvesting

These types of human trafficking cases involve victims being forced into donating an organ for a life-saving treatment. The person receiving the organ pays for both operations.

On average in the UK there are 200,000 people on the NHS waiting list for organs. Often organ harvesters take their victims abroad for surgery and sell the organs for a large fee.

Criminal exploitation

Victims are often enticed by their traffickers by the promise of work and a better life.

They are usually provided with accommodation but a ‘debt bondage’ is often imposed. This is where the trafficker makes the victim pay for the cost of their living, which is often set at an extortionate rate meaning the victim is forced to commit crime as a way of repayment.

Spotting the signs of modern slavery

Being able to recognise the signs of modern slavery may help save someone’s life. Warning signs include people;

  • seeming overly tired, withdrawn or avoiding eye contact
  • not having suitable equipment or clothing for the job they are doing
  • looking unkempt or showing signs of physical abuse
  • not being able to come and go as they wish
  • being unpaid or paid very little
  • working excessively long or unusual hours
  • not being allowed breaks or suffers restrictions at work
  • owing a large debt and is unable to pay it off
  • being recruited through false promises
  • having high security measures at their place of work and/or living locations e.g. opaque windows.
  • being under 18 and providing commercial sex acts
  • working in the commercial sex industry and has a pimp/manager

Modern slavery effects on mental health and behaviours

Poor mental health or abnormal behaviour is another sign of modern slavery. This can include individuals;

  • being fearful, anxious, depressed, submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid
  • avoiding eye contact
  • lacking health care
  • appearing malnourished
  • showing signs of physical or sexual abuse, physical restraint or torture
  • having few or no personal possessions
  • not being in control of their own money, bank account or identification documents e.g. passport or ID
  • not being to speak for themselves
  • not wanting to explain where they are living
  • having a lack of knowledge of where they are
  • having no sense of time
  • having inconsistencies in their story.

Modern slavery sexual abuse

Signs of sexual abuse is another factor to look out for;

  • being underage and taking part in inappropriate or risky behaviour
  • having older boyfriends or girlfriends
  • 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
  • being involved in abusive relationships and intimidated and fearful of certain people or situations
  • not going to school and getting involved with crime, drugs or alcohol abuse
  • having mood swings.

Report modern slavery

If someone’s life is in immediate danger, always call 999.

If there is no emergency, but you want to speak to one of our officers, you can report your concern online, call us on 101 or the dedicated trafficking police hotline on 0800 783 2589, open 24/7.

Modern slavery support organisations

The Modern Slavery Helpline, which is run by the anti-slavery charity Unseen UK. The modern slavery helpline 08000 121 700  is an independent, confidential and free service which is open 24/7 . 

The modern slavery helpline provide support to;

  • potential victims who can speak to fully-trained helpline advisors who will help with accessing relevant services, including government funded support
  • statutory agencies who can call to gain support in dealing with potential victims and to receive guidance in accessing information and tools
  • businesses who can call for information, advice and also to report any concerns they have about potential instances of modern slavery
  • members of the public and those delivering services on the front-line can also report any modern slavery suspicions or concerns about individuals, premises or locations.

You may wish to contact other organisations for more information or if you have concerns about modern slavery;

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