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How to spot Modern Slavery | Sandwell Council

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How to spot Modern Slavery

Physical Appearance

Victims may appear:

  • Malnourished and starved
  • Neglected and scruffy
  • Unclean and poor hygiene
  • Acutely tired and exhausted
  • Be drugged or drunk
  • Have incorrect clothing or equipment for the work they are doing
  • Under the influence of drugs


Victims may appear:

  • Fearful or scared
  • Anxious or stressed
  • Angry or agitated
  • Withdrawn
  • Traumatised
  • Confused
  • Unable to speak intelligibly


Victims may appear:

  • Withdrawn
  • Unable to communicate effectively
  • Unable to understand English
  • Unable to understand you
  • To have someone else speak on their behalf

Poor living conditions

Victims may appear to be living:

  • At a place of work
  • In an overcrowded house
  • In a dilapidated caravan or outbuilding
  • In a place with blacked out windows
  • With no heating or running water
  • Somewhere clearly not fit to live in

Restricted freedom

Victims may appear:

  • Unable to come and go freely
  • Reluctant to leave their situation
  • Unable to find or show identity documents like passports, bank accounts
  • In debt or dependant on someone else
  • Unwilling to handle money
  • To have door locks on the outside

Reluctant to seek help

Victims may appear:

  • Reluctant to talk to you
  • Reluctant to being helped by you or by others
  • Reluctant to leave their situation
  • Fearful of you or the authorities
  • Fearful of reprisal from someone else
  • Unable to prove their legal status to be in the UK

Unusual travel times

Victims may appear to:

  • Travel at unusual times
  • Travel early in the morning or late at night
  • Have transportation to and from work provided
  • Have to pay for the transport


Child Victims may also appear to:

  • Have mood swings
  • Be angry, upset and withdrawn
  • Show inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Be dressed inappropriately for their age
  • Go missing at night or weekends
  • Not attend school
  • Have unexplained gifts or presents
  • Present with extreme behaviours including aggression and withdrawal
  • Evidence of sexual exploitation
  • A change in the way the child dresses or speaks which could indicate exploitation and/or gang affiliation
  • Have missing episodes from home/placement or education
  • Have explained items, money, ability to access drugs or alcohol with no method of payment