A woman crying A woman crying

Modern Slavery today

A crime that reaches into every community

Modern slavery is a crime in which people are exploited through fraud, deception, and coercion. It takes many forms, such as trafficking, forced labour, and domestic servitude. Victims are often trapped by their traffickers using various tactics, including confinement, violence, and the withholding of wages and documents. Modern slavery can happen in any community and often goes unnoticed, with victims working in various industries, including private residences. The hidden and complex nature of modern slavery makes it difficult to determine its true scale. Victims are often unseen, unable to leave their situation, or too scared to come forward. However, when victims do come forward, the full extent of their ordeal becomes apparent, and the journey to recovery can begin.

"I’ve never been to a place where everything is given for free, without having to use shameful ways to pay for it. God bless" 

Quote from a female client

The scale of the problem

Last year 16,938 people were referred to the Home Office as potential victims of modern slavery.

It is 33% higher than 2021 and it is the highest number of referrals for any year.

Modern slavery referrals have more than doubled in the last five years.

2022 saw the highest number of reasonable and conclusive grounds decisions with almost 17,000 reasonable grounds and just over 6,000 conclusive grounds decisions made; of these, 88% of reasonable grounds and 89% of conclusive grounds decisions were positive.

Last year 41% or four out of every ten people referred as potential victims of modern slavery, were 17 years of age or under. 

Referrals by age

Referrals by age and exploitation type

The three most common nationalities referred for modern slavery were Albanian, British and Eritrean.

Source: SCA, IECA

Referrals for the most common nationalities

Referrals for the most common nationalities

The National Crime Agency estimates that there are between 6,000 and 8,000 offenders involved in exploitation of people in the UK.

In 2020/21 the CPS prosecuted 335 defendants for modern slavery offences.

Referrals by age group of exploitation

The number of Under-17s referred as potential modern slavery victims rose by 29% in just one year.

Four out of every 10 potential modern slavery victims last year were rescued from labour and criminal exploitation.

Source: SCA, IECA

Graph showing the rise in under 17 referrals

Spot the Signs of Modern Slavery

Modern slavery is a crime against humanity.

Victims can be any age, race or gender. Some don’t even understand that they have been exploited or are entitled to help or support. 

You can make a huge difference by knowing the signs of possible exploitation and how to report it. 


You should seek advice if a person: 

  • Has no control of their identification documents, such as their passport
  • Works long hours in harsh or unsafe conditions
  • Is living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation
  • Is living and working at the same address
  • Is not able to move around freely and appears to be under someone else’s control
  • Is rarely allowed to travel on their own
  • Appears frightened, withdrawn or shows signs of physical or psychological abuse e.g. looking malnourished or unkempt 
  • Is reluctant to seek help and avoids eye contact with strangers or the authorities 
  • Is fearful of the police, doesn’t know who to trust or where to get help. 

Are you worried about someone?

If you have any concerns about potential victims, do not confront them as this could make them more vulnerable. Instead, contact: 

  • 999 in an emergency
  • 101 to report your concern to the Police
  • Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 in confidence

If you’d like more information about spotting the signs of modern slavery, or to discuss a potential issue in your community, please call us on 0800 06 999 16.

Male African male - out of focus