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How to spot a victim of modern day slavery - and what to do next

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Modern slavery can be incredibly hard to recognise, with signs like exhaustion and nervousness often confused with other issues

Modern slavery in the UK is hiding in plain sight

Modern slavery in the UK is hiding in plain sight - existing all around us in every walk of life.

But unless you know what you’re looking for, it can easily go unseen as we go about our busy days.

The number of potential victims identified in the UK is on the increase and in 2018 more than 7,000 potential victims were identified and referred to the UK’s National Referral Mechanism.

People often assume victims of modern slavery are only vulnerable women associated with sexual exploitation – this perception needs to change, as this is just one aspect of modern slavery.

Victims are just as often young, able-bodied men being coerced into situations of forced labour.

The government introduced the world-leading Modern Slavery Act in 2015, and has also put in place a dedicated taskforce and launched a targeted campaign in regions including the West Midlands, to significantly reduce instances in the UK. But victims need your help to stop this practice now.

Below we've listed some of the key indicators of modern slavery which could signal that somebody is at risk.

If you believe somebody could be a victim, call the National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or search the web for Modern Slavery Helpline for more information or to make a report.

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PHYSICAL APPEARANCE

They might show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, anxious or agitated. They may appear withdrawn and neglected – and could have untreated injuries.

ISOLATION

The individual might rarely be allowed to travel on their own and show signs of being under the control or influence of others – who could be posing as their friend or translator. They may also seem unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.

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POOR LIVING CONDITIONS

They could be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or claiming to live and work at the same address.

RESTRICTED FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT

Does the individual not have any ID? Perhaps they seem to lack personal possessions, or often wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.

UNUSUAL TRAVEL TIMES

A victim of slavery might often be dropped off or collected for work at odd times - such as very early or late at night. The vehicles used might also raise suspicions, such as regular pick-ups at bizarre times in private cars and taxis.

RELUCTANT TO SEEK HELP

They might avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers - especially law enforcers. They may express anxiety over who to trust or where to get help.

If you believe somebody could be a victim, call the National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or search the web for Modern Slavery Helpline for more information or to make a report.

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