Introduction to modern slavery
Last updated 14/07/2021
Modern slavery is a serious and brutal crime in which people are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. The true extent of modern slavery in the UK, and indeed globally, is unknown. Modern slavery, in particular human trafficking, is an international problem and victims (who may be European Economic Area (EEA) or non-EEA nationals) may have entered the UK legally, on forged documentation or clandestinely, or they may be British citizens living in the UK.
Modern slavery includes human trafficking, slavery, servitude and forced and compulsory labour. Exploitation takes a number of forms, including sexual exploitation, forced manual labour and domestic servitude, and victims come from all walks of life. For more information, see ‘What is modern slavery?’.
Victims may be unwilling to come forward to law enforcement or public protection agencies, not seeing themselves as victims, or fearing further reprisals from their abusers. Victims may also not always be recognised as such by those who come into contact with them.
The scale of modern slavery in the UK is significant. Modern slavery crimes are being committed across the country and there have been year on year increases in the number of victims identified. Work by the Home Office Chief Scientific Adviser has estimated that in 2013 there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK.
In few other crimes are human beings used as commodities over and over again for the profit of others. Victims endure experiences that are horrifying in their inhumanity. The UK is determined to protect vulnerable people from exploitation and provide enhanced support to victims.