What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is an umbrella term under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 which encompasses human trafficking, slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour.

In its most simple form, modern slavery involves the deception or a coercion of a person, for the purpose of a work-like or exploitative activity.

Under modern slavery legislation, anyone under 18 is considered to be a child, and therefore the way in which they were coerced into exploitation is irrelevant. Any concerns related to a child should be treated as child abuse, and addressed using existing child protection procedures and statutory protocols.

Modern slavery is a global issue that transcends age, gender and ethnicity. While modern slavery is a crime, the large-scale drivers of all forms of exploitation are primarily rooted in inequality, poverty, and economic structures. This makes the eradication of modern slavery exceptionally challenging.

The exploitation of adults and children is something that is still happening in the UK today,including here in Birmingham.

Different forms of modern slavery

There is a range of exploitative practices which survivors might experience, and many of them occur together. It is also common for survivors of modern slavery to be subject to other forms of interpersonal and structural abuse, including domestic abuse, forced marriage, homelessness, and the potential for persecution or harm. Forms of exploitation might include:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Domestic servitude
  • Labour exploitation
  • Criminal exploitation, including forced begging, acquisitive crime, or drug production
  • Organ removal
  • Forced marriage

The Government has produced a useful modern slavery awareness booklet and "modern slavery is closer than you think" infographic and short film.

Full details of the types of modern slavery can be found on GOV.UK website.

Who experiences modern slavery?

There are no typical survivors of modern slavery. Survivors can be men, women and children of all ages, ethnicities and nationalities, and cut across the whole population.

However, it is normally more prevalent amongst the most economically vulnerable, such as those with no recourse to public funds, or with insecure immigration status, and within minority or socially excluded groups.

Potential survivors have been reported from over 100 countries of origin each year.

According to the National Referral Mechanism and Duty to Notify statistics UK, there were 16,938 potential victims of modern slavery referred to the Home Office in 2022.

The most common nationality referred was Albanian, which accounted for 27% of all potential victims, the second was UK (25% of the referrals) and the third was Eritrean (7% of the referrals).

Page last updated: 18 May 2023

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