What is modern slavery?


You might think that slavery is a thing of the past. But right now, almost 50 million people are trapped in slavery worldwide.  It’s a problem that affects every country on earth – including the UK 

There are at least 136,000 victims of slavery in the UK at this very moment – and those are the ones we can only estimate.

Modern slavery is a hidden crime that reaches every community in the UK. Today it doesn’t look like people bound in chains.

Modern Slavery looks like...

Modern slavery is all around us, hidden in plain sight. People become enslaved making our clothes, serving our food, picking our crops, working in factories, or working in houses as cooks, cleaners or nannies. Victims of modern slavery might face violence or threats, be forced into inescapable debt, or have their passport taken away and face being threatened with deportation. 

Many people have fallen into this trap because they were trying to escape poverty or insecurity, improve their lives and support their families. Now, they can’t leave. 

Sexual Exploitation

Sexual exploitation involves a person profiting from the use of another person’s body in a sexual manner in order to benefit (financially or otherwise). The perpetrator of sexual exploitation takes advantage of their victim’s vulnerable or dependent state.

ProstitutionSelling of their own body

Sexual ExploitationSomeone else selling their body

Forced Crimminality

This is when somebody is forced to carry out criminal activity through coercion or deception. Forced criminality can take many forms, including:

Drug trade, e.g. cannabis cultivation, drug distribution and County Lines

Forced begging

Pick-pocketing and Shop-lifting

Forced Labour

Forced labour means you are forced to do work that you have not willingly agreed to, under the threat of punishment.

“The worst part was that there was no rest. I slept for two hours a night. There was no going out and no days off. When the bosses were out, the house was locked.”

“I soon learned that if we refused to work, the police would be brought in to make us work. Once I was slapped around the face for not ironing my employer’s scarf properly.”

— Mauritanian Human Trafficking Victims 


Domestic servitude typically involves victims working in a private family home where they are ill-treated, humiliated, subjected to unbearable conditions or working hours and made to work for little or no pay.

Think of Cinderella (Victim) and her wicked Step-mother (Trafficker).


Forced organ harvesting is the illegal practice of surgically removing a victim’s organs against their will. They are forcefully removed. Some examples:

  • Victims are kidnapped and have an organ forcefully removed.
  • Victims are tricked into believing they require an operation and whilst under anaesthetic have an organ removed, without knowledge or consent.
  • Human traffickers are known to offer safe passage in return for an organ.
  • Many victims of forced organ harvesting have previously been exploited through human trafficking and other forms of slavery.
  • Other victims are murdered on demand and have their organs removed to fulfil an order.

The incidence of forced organ harvesting is rising worldwide. The World Health Organisation predicts that more than one illegal organ transaction is made every hour worldwide.