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Modern slavery

Modern slavery can take many forms including people trafficking and forced labour.

It’s estimated there are more than 10,000 potential victims in the UK, and many of these are children.

Sandwell organisations are working closely together – and with the West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner – to tackle this crime. The council has a modern slavery statement and policy.

Examples of modern slavery can include:

  • Forced labour – forcing people to work long hours for little or no pay in poor conditions under threats of violence to them or their families.
  • Child trafficking – under-18s moved into and around the UK to exploit them for work, prostitution or sexual abuse.
  • Domestic servitude – forcing people to work, usually in private households, doing chores and childcare duties. They may work long hours for little or no pay and have their freedom restricted.
  • Criminal exploitation – making people commit crimes, such as pick-pocketing, shoplifting, growing cannabis and drug trafficking.

Other forms may include organ removal, forced begging, early and forced marriage and illegal adoption.

If you see something suspicious, no matter how small, please call police on 101, the UK Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the independent charity Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Public organisations – such as police forces and councils – now have a duty to inform the Home Office of anyone they believe is a victim of slavery or human trafficking.

How to spot modern slavery

Signs of slavery and exploitation are often hidden. Victims can be any age, gender, ethnicity or nationality.

Key things to look out for are:

  • several unrelated adults living at a single address;
  • people being regularly collected very early in the morning and/or returned late at night;
  • signs of injury, malnourishment and a general untidy appearance;
  • people being isolated from the rest of the community;
  • people who live and work at the same address in poor conditions;
  • women being kept in houses where there are large numbers of male visitors;
  • people who don’t know their address;
  • people who cannot produce their documents; and
  • people who often seem anxious and fearful, especially in the presence of a ‘friend’ or interpreter who appears to be controlling them and their answers.

Useful contacts and resources

UK Modern Slavery Helpline: 08000 121 700

West Midlands Police – advice on modern slavery

West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network – connecting organisations to tackle modern slavery

Home Office – Modern slavery: duty to notify – guidance on when and how to notify the Home Office

Home Office video – Modern slavery is closer than you think

Tackling modern slavery - a council guide

Barnardo’s Panel for Protection of Trafficked Children

International Labour Office –Forced Labour and Indicators of Forced Labour

Black Country Women’s Aid

The Salvation Army (24-hour confidential referral helpline): 0300 303 8151

Stop the Traffick: 0207 921 4258

Sandwell Council Modern Slavery Statement and Policy