What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery is complex; but simply put, it describes a situation where someone is made to do something, and another person gains from this. It is deception or coercion for the purpose of exploitation. The purpose of exploitation may include:
- Forced labour
- Sexual exploitation
- Domestic servitude
- Criminal exploitation
- Forced/ sham marriage
- Organ harvesting
Victims can be any age, gender, or race, but are often taken advantage of due to their vulnerability. This is a serious crime which directly violates the human rights of its victims.
The Home Office has in its annual report on Modern Slavery for 2020 (pdf) referenced a report by the Centre for Social Justice, titled ‘It still happens here: Fighting UK slavery in the 2020s’, which estimated that there could be at least 100,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK
That’s why it’s important to recognise the indicators of modern slavery and to know how to respond if you suspect someone is a victim. Find out how you can play your part in ending modern slavery by reading our Ending modern slavery strategy which sets out our objectives and demonstrates the things individuals, communities, professionals, and society can do to help reach the shared goal. Ending modern slavery is everyone’s responsibility.
“Modern slavery is one of the most widespread crimes in the world. These crimes are abhorrent, but to make things worse, they can often be happening all around us, in our communities, and right under our noses. In Hammersmith & Fulham, compassion is at the heart of everything we do, and we are determined to play our part in eradicating modern slavery – whether it’s happening within our borough or elsewhere. To make sure we’re doing that, our inaugural modern slavery strategy has been co-produced by partners, including by survivors and residents. The strategy recognises that it is everyone’s responsibility to tackle modern slavery. By working together, we can all play our part in preventing exploitation, bringing exploiters to justice, ensuring the best support for survivors, and eradicating modern slavery in Hammersmith & Fulham” Cllr Sue Fennimore Deputy Leader Hammersmith & Fulham Council
Hammersmith & Fulham Modern slavery strategy sets out our objectives for the next five years and how we will achieve them.
For a plain text version of the strategy see Ending Modern Slavery in Hammersmith & Fulham (text version pdf 500KB)
Our strategy was developed in conjunction with Stop the Traffik and we have been championing a multi-agency response to modern slavery since the formation of the Modern Slavery & Exploitation (MSE) Group in 2013. The council, police, NHS and over 15 NGOs make up the MSE Group and we’re working together to shape the strategic response to ending modern slavery. We recognise that some people are disproportionately at risk of exploitation and/or have limited access to resources. Exploiters take advantage of these vulnerabilities.
We will regularly review the Modern slavery strategy in line with our Equalities Strategy and our Social Value Strategy to ensure we remove barriers to inclusion and inequalities that persist in our communities.
Objective One: Victims identified - Identifying people as victim/survivors of modern slavery is important in making sure they can access appropriate support.
Objective Two: Exploitation prevented - By investigating exploitation and empowering individuals to know and exercise their rights, we can prevent exploitation.
Objective Three: Victims supported - Victim/survivors of modern slavery can have a range of needs and our approach is both holistic and trauma-informed.
Objective Four: Exploiters bought to justice - Modern slavery is a crime and exploiters must be brought to justice to prevent them from exploiting others.
How do I recognise a potential victim of modern slavery?
If you suspect someone is a victim of modern slavery, it is essential that you report it to the relevant authorities. Please do not confront the controller as it is may put both yourself and the victim at harm.
By knowing the signs of modern slavery, you can help stop it. Here’s what to look out for in a potential victim:
- fearful, anxious or distrustful of authorities
- appears malnourished
- shows signs of trauma (physical or psychological)
- suffers injuries that may be the result of controlling measures or that have been left untreated
- unfamiliar with local language or context
- does not know their home or work address
- has a story that sounds rehearsed
- dependency and presence of a controller – allows others to speak for them when addressed directly
- believes they have a debt to pay off
- separated from their ID documents
- do not have any days off, or unable to leave their work environment
- has limited or no social interaction
- reveals threats have been made against them or their family.
Learn to spot the signs of modern slavery by visiting the Unseen UK website.
What you can do if you have concerns
If you feel you are a victim of modern slavery, or being exploited, help is available.
If you are with a victim of modern slavery who’s requesting support, please use these contacts:
- Contact the customer support centre on Freephone 0800 145 6095, 8am to 6pm, Monday to Friday, mention modern slavery – they will complete the next steps.
- Out of office hours, please contact the emergency duty team on 020 8748 8588.
- For local services, visit the Angelou Partnership website.
- In an emergency, always call 999.
The Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline
East European Resource Centre
Citizens Advice Bureau
Work Rights Centre
Modern slavery and human trafficking statements
We have signed the Charter Against Modern Slavery. The charter makes a clear statement that modern slavery has no place in our supply chains. Signing the statement is our pledge to proactively vet supply chains to ensure modern slavery is not taking place within them.
Find out more about the Co-operative Party Charter Against Modern Slavery, why it was important to commit to it, and read a detailed outline of our commitments.