Modern slavery includes human trafficking, slavery, domestic servitude, forced or compulsory labour, and sexual exploitation. It can affect anyone regardless of age, ethnicity, nationality, gender or economic background. They are usually vulnerable, and criminals target them in order to coerce them into forced or exploitative work.
The numbers of people identified in Hertfordshire as victims of modern slavery have grown annually, however it is usually a hidden crime so the real numbers could be much higher.
Identifying modern slavery
Victims of slavery and exploitation are often hidden in plain sight. They are put to work in businesses, homes or other situations where most people would assume their rights are being respected.
As such it is vital that the public are aware that modern slavery does exist, what signs to look out for and where to report their concerns.
Signs to look out for:
Signs of Abuse
Living and Working Conditions
Other Signs of Modern Slavery
Physically malnourished, unkempt, or neglected
Lack of healthcare
Appearing anxious, agitated, or withdrawn
Presenting as submissive, tense, nervous or paranoid
Avoiding eye contact
Dirty, cramped, or overcrowded living accommodations or workspace
Unpaid or paid very little
Excessive work hours
Unusual work restrictions (such as prohibited from taking breaks)
Living or working at the same address
Unsafe working conditions or gear
Restricted freedom of movement or confinement
Unable to travel alone
Spoken for by someone else
Lack of control over finances or identification documents
Rarely interacts with others
Unusual travel times or travel arrangements
Reluctance to seek help
Fear of law enforcement
Missing identification documents
Owes a large debt, unable to be paid off
Lack of knowledge as to whereabouts
Fear of deportation
Reporting Modern Slavery
- If you believe a person is a victim of modern slavery or is in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.
- To report concerns, get advice, or seek help, call the confidential UK Modern Slavery Helpline at 0800 012 1700 or visit the website.
- Report suspicions of modern slavery by calling 101 or reporting through the website.
Hertfordshire Constabulary has a dedicated modern slavery unit called Operation Tropic. The team was created to provide specialist support to trafficking or modern slavery investigations in the county and to coordinate the Force’s overall response to this growing issue.
The Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership was set up to strengthen partnerships and systems to tackle human trafficking in the county. The partnership consists of approximately 40 statutory and non-statutory agencies and charities, including 10 district and borough councils, Hertfordshire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner’s Office and Hertfordshire Constabulary’s Operation Tropic.
The Partnership is coordinated by Shiva Foundation, a corporate foundation that aims to tackle and prevent human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.
For more information on the partnership and modern slavery, visit the Police and Crime Commissioner’s website.