How to spot the signs of modern slavery

As Anti-Slavery Day takes place on Wednesday 18 October 2017, police remind Dorset residents to look out for the signs.

Modern slavery is known to be taking place globally today and is affecting adults and children within the UK, including Dorset. 

Someone is in slavery if they are forced to work, if they are owned or controlled by an employer, if they are dehumanised and treated as a commodity, or bought and sold as ‘property’, or if they are physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement. 

There is no ‘typical’ victim of modern slavery. Victims can be men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities, nationalities and backgrounds. They are forced into a situation through the use or threat of violence, deception or coercion. Victims may enter the UK legally, or on forged documentation, or they may be a UK citizen living in the UK who is then forced into slavery. Modern slavery covers a range of exploitation including; human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage, domestic servitude, criminal activities, child labour, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and forced and early marriage.

Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Dudfield said: “Modern slavery happens to some of the most vulnerable people in society, who may not even realise they are being exploited.

“We need members of the public to ensure they report any concerns they have around someone’s working or living conditions. Ask yourself if a worker’s physical appearance seems poor, are they clothed properly for their work, do they interact with you freely or seem hesitant or nervous to speak? Or do you work or live near a business where the staff seem to have restricted movement or are dropped off/collected for work on a regular basis, either very early or late at night? If something doesn’t seem right, report it.”

Due to age, child victims have an additional level of vulnerability. According to the National Crime Agency one in three UK victims of slavery are children. Children can be trafficked from outside the UK or are moved within the country for the purposes of forced labour and criminal and sexual exploitation. This can include a child who is moved within their own home town area for the purposes of CSE. 

Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Dudfield continues: “We know that modern slavery and human trafficking can happen anywhere in the country. We have dedicated officers who investigate CSE and safeguard children, and as part of the South West Anti-Slavery Partnership we work with partners to target various locations across the county to ensure individuals are not being trafficked and/or forced into work.

“Members of the public are vital to helping us identify potential victims of modern slavery and we are asking people to be aware and vigilant to any signs of modern slavery. Report your concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700. If you have specific concerns regarding employees within the Agriculture, Horticulture or Shellfish gathering industry, contact the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority on 0800 432 0804. 

“You can also report to Dorset Police online by visiting and following the ‘Do it online’ function. If you believe someone is in immediate danger, call 999. You do not need to be sure to make a report, if something doesn’t seem right, please let us know.”

For details on how to spot the signs and for more information and support on issues related to modern slavery, visit 

Dorset PCC Martyn Underhill said: “The Modern Slavery Act sent a strong signal to criminals that involvement in this vile trade will not be tolerated, but as a society, we must get better at spotting the signs and addressing the root causes.

“The reason that perpetrators can be so prolific is that they target those who are already vulnerable. They might be fleeing other dangerous or exploitative situations; they might be homeless or suffering with mental health issues. I urge everyone to be vigilant and report concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline. Modern slavery continues to plague us nationally; it’s taking place close to home and Dorset isn’t exempt.”

For further information:
• Modern Slavery Helpline: 0800 0121 700 (24hrs and anonymous), 
• Unseen: 
• Anti-Slavery International: 
• Crimestoppers: 0800 555111,
•Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority: 0800 432 0804,