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What is modern slavery and how you can recognise it | Modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) | Birmingham City Council

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What is modern slavery and how you can recognise it

Modern slavery is considered a ‘hidden’ crime as it often takes place without people being aware that it is happening. Below are some key indicators to help raise awareness and enable our citizens to recognise the signs that modern slavery may be taking place plus links to more detailed information.

Modern slavery takes many forms including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude and slavery. Children (those aged under 18) are considered victims of trafficking, whether or not they have been coerced, deceived or paid to secure their compliance.

Modern slavery is a global problem that transcends age, gender and ethnicity. It is not an issue confined to history nor is it something that only happens in certain countries. It is something that is still happening today, and it happens here in Birmingham!

Different forms of modern slavery

Modern slavery captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. Modern slavery exploitation is very wide but includes some of these:

  • Sexual exploitation
  • Domestic servitude
  • Forced labour
  • Criminal exploitation

Other forms of exploitation include – organ removal; forced begging; forced benefit fraud; forced marriage and illegal adoption.

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 are the victims of modern slavery?

There are no typical victims. Victims 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 vulnerable, and within minority or socially excluded groups.

Roughly two-thirds of victims are women and a third, men. Every fourth victim of modern slavery is a child. Child victims are victims of child abuse and should therefore be treated as such using existing child protection procedures and statutory protocols.

Where do victims come from?

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

The top four most common countries of origin for potential victims of trafficking recorded in February 2018 in the West Midlands were: the UK, Poland, Vietnam, and Albania.


Those perpetrating the crime – the Slave-masters or Gang-masters – are often of the same nationality as their victims. However, there is now a growing trend for Slave-masters to come from a different country from those they are enslaving.