The components of modern slavery: slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour
Last updated 23/09/2021
This section gives further guidance on the components that apply to victims of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour where the victims have not been trafficked. Because slavery and servitude are more serious forms of forced and compulsory labour, once the Competent Authority has determined whether an individual is a victim of this form of exploitation they can make the NRM decision.
This includes further guidance on the components of:
The components of modern slavery – slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour: means
For an individual to be a victim of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour where the victims have not been trafficked, they must have been subject to a means, or threat of penalty through which that service was derived.
The UN Convention No. 29 concerning forced or compulsory labour defines ’forced or compulsory labour’ as ’all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’.
‘Penalty’ may go as far as physical violence or restraint, but it can also take subtler forms of a psychological nature, such as threats to denounce victims to the police or immigration authorities when their employment status is illegal. Consent is a factor in forced and compulsory labour, but a victim may have given consent in a situation where they felt they had no viable alternative, in which case they could still be subject to forced or compulsory labour.
Slavery, servitude or forced or compulsory labour must include this threat of penalty.
Deception must of itself constitute a threat of penalty to establish means.
Different types of means that may be present in modern slavery cases are explained below.
Modern slavery: means – physical coercion
Physical coercion refers to the threat of the use of force or the actual use of force against the victim of modern slavery or their family members. Physical coercion could also be more subtle measures of control, for example withholding travel or immigration documents.
Modern slavery: means – psychological coercion
Psychological coercion refers to the threat or the perceived threat to the victim’s relationships with other people. Examples of psychological coercion include any of the following:
- ritual oaths – there is evidence to suggest witchcraft or ritual oaths can also be used to make children fearful and compliant
- forcing someone to pay an excessive amount of money for substandard accommodation
- making significant deductions from an individual’s ‘salary’
- threats of rejection from, or disapproval by, a peer group, family
- anger or displeasure by the person considered to be a partner by the victim
There does not necessarily have to be a direct personal relationship in psychological coercion. It could refer to wider issues, for example social stigma. This is particularly relevant in cases involving sexual exploitation or other forms of sexual violence.
Other examples include:
- grooming – where vulnerable individuals are enticed over time to take part in activity in which they may not be entirely willing participants (for example the ‘boyfriend’ method is fairly common in sexual exploitation)
- ‘Stockholm syndrome’ – where due to unequal power, victims create a false emotional or psychological attachment to their controller
In both of these examples the individuals can often first appear to be ‘willing participants’. Due to their age and dependent status children are especially vulnerable to physical and psychological coercion.
Modern slavery: means – complex cases
There are also more complex cases where victims have been a victim of modern slavery and subject to exploitation in their own country, and after escaping their situation travel to the UK to continue working in similar industries without such obvious control over movement or freedom.
An example of this may be where a child has been sexually exploited in a home country and then travels to the UK as an adult to work in prostitution. At first it may appear the individual is a willing participant but you must consider any progression of control and coercion when you make your decision.
Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour: service
For a person to be a victim of slavery, servitude, or forced or compulsory labour where the victims have not been trafficked, there must have been a service derived via the threat of penalty.
The UN Convention No. 29 concerning forced or compulsory labour defines ‘forced or compulsory labour’ as ‘all work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily’. Labour is the provision of any service, not just manual labour.
‘Service’ or labour includes: forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual services and forced criminality. These forms of service could take place in a variety of industries or in private homes.
Servitude and slavery are more serious forms of forced or compulsory labour. For the purposes of the NRM you will only need to determine whether an individual has been the victim of slavery, servitude, or forced or compulsory labour. Definitions for servitude and forced or compulsory labour are within Slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour (cases identified in England or Wales).