What is Modern Slavery?

Modern Slavery is the term used to describe the exploitation of one person by another for personal or financial gain. 

More than 40 million people around the world are believed to be trapped in exploitation and modern slavery, over 100,000 of whom are in the UK.

Modern slavery crimes can involve one person, or many people, and can happen anywhere.


What does modern slavery include?

  • Human Trafficking. This is the forced movement of a person, or people, from one place to another in order to exploit them. This can be across international borders, or within a single country or town.
  • Forced labour. Someone is forced or coerced into working for little, or no pay.
  • Criminal exploitation. Someone is forced or coerced into committing crimes on behalf of others.
  • Sexual exploitation. Someone is forced or coerced into selling sex for the financial benefit of another.  
  • Domestic servitude. Someone is brought to live in a family home, but then used for free domestic chores or childcare.
  • Debt bondage. This is where someone is made to work to pay back a debt- but has no control over the duration of the debt, how much they owe, the interest, the hours they work, or the work they do. 
  • Child exploitation. This is when children are forced into marriage, domestic servitude, forced labour, prostitution, criminality, or to fight as soldiers.
  • Forced marriage/conjugal slavery. This is where one/or both parties are forced into a marriage against their will, either through violence, kidnap, psychological or familial pressure. The ‘marriage’ may be used to gain a visa, to use or control someone for forced labour or sex, or simply because family members have made the marriage non-optional.

What does coerced mean?

Coerced means being persuaded or manipulated into doing something against your will. Criminals who coerce their victims, can do so through threats of violence against the victim or their family, blackmail, fear of being cursed, or by telling them they will be arrested or deported if they are found.

Criminals may also emotionally manipulate their victims into working or committing crimes by befriending or grooming them, before exploiting their trust or affection for financial gain.

What type of people are victims of modern slavery? 

Many people trapped in exploitation in the UK are foreign nationals brought here by force or deception, but thousands of victims are also British.

People who exploit others for financial gain target those who are vulnerable in some way, usually by pretending to offer what that person needs, whether that’s a job, financial security, a safer country, or even just emotional connection. Anyone can be a target.