We believe that every person has the right to be free from slavery, but unfortunately modern slavery is still very much in existence and is very present in every area of the UK. It has been reported that year on year slavery is actually rising, with numbers over 10,000 being reported to authorities, but this is only an estimation – the true figures could be far more.
Modern slavery comes in many different forms. There are those who fall victim to sexual slavery and exploitation, or domestic slavery – those forced to work in private homes. Forced labour includes those forced to work on farms, construction sites, shops, bars, nail bars, car washes or factories. More recently there has been slavery which involves trafficking into crime – this mostly affects British children forced into ‘county lines’ drug trafficking.
If you believe you fall into any one of these categories or think you know someone that does, we urge you to contact the police straight away either through 999 if you or they are in imminent danger or calling 101. We also recommend visiting a local police station if possible. If you need legal advice that is when you should be contacting a criminal solicitor to advise you.
How to recognise the signs of slavery
Vicitms of slavery are increasingly hard to spot – but there are some things to look out for and questions to ask yourself:
Are you under the control of another person? Do you feel scared to talk to other people? Do you feel scared of a person and what they might do if you disobeyed them? Equally do you see someone else being repeatedly controlled and that they are unable to connect to others socially?
Do you have control of your person identification? Do you have your passport, visa, identification card, driving licence, birth certificate? Does someone else hold these and say you can’t have them? Again does the person you’re worried about not have any form of personal ID?
Do you not have very many personal belongings? Do you wear the same clothes every day or not wear the right clothes for certain occasions? Do you know someone who wears the same clothes every day? Have they clearly not been washed?
Do you have the freedom to do what you want? Can you leave where you are? Can you visit friends or go and see new locations? Do you know someone who can never leave the place they are in?
Are you scared? Have you been physically harmed? Or are you being mentally abused? Do you get worried about talking to other people? Equally have you seen someone who is visibly scared to talk or shows signs of mental and physical abuse?
The most important thing is that if you suspect someone of being a victim you must not confront them. This could be harmful for them – you need to contact the relevant authorities. If you are a victim, try and confide in someone you trust, or contact the police as soon as you can or try to contact charities like Anti-Slavery. Once you are safe and in a better position, you can then work with a criminal solicitor on how to bring your captor to justice.