Spotting the signs and risk factors

Risk factors

Anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity and sexuality, can be at risk of modern slavery. However, traffickers or modern slavery facilitators often target vulnerable individuals as they are easier to coerce. Particularly vulnerable groups include:

  • Poor people
  • Homeless people / Missing from Homes
  • Alcoholics / Drug addicts
  • People who lack education
  • Children brought up in social care
  • Mentally and /or physically ill people
  • Victims of domestic violence
  • Illegal immigrants
  • Former victims of modern slavery and human trafficking


Spotting the signs

General Indicators

Trafficking victims are often lured into another country by false promises and so may not easily trust others. They may:

  • Be fearful of police/ authorities
  • Be fearful of the trafficker, believing their lives or family members lives are at risk if they escape
  • Exhibit signs of physical and psychological trauma e.g. anxiety, lack of memory of recent events bruising, untreated conditions
  • Be fearful of telling others about their situation
  • Be unaware they have been trafficked and believe they are simply in a bad job
  • Have limited freedom of movement
  • Be unpaid or paid very little
  • Have limited access to medical care
  • Seem to be in debt to someone
  • Have no passport or mention that someone else is holding their passport
  • Be regularly moved to avoid detection


Sexual exploitation

Victims being forced into non-consensual or abusive sexual acts.

There are many signs to look out for including the following:

  • Physical injuries
  • Evidence of physical abuse
  • Visible emotional distress
  • Someone who is uncommunicative, tense and fails to make eye contact
  • Signs of sexual abuse, and / or sexually transmitted diseases



Labour exploitation

Victims being compelled to work long hours, often in hard conditions and to hand the majority of their wages to traffickers.

There are many signs to look out for including the following:

  • Evidence of sexual abuse and threats of violence
  • Excessive dependence on employers or third parties
  • Excessive working hours
  • Sub-standard living conditions
  • Wages being withheld or excessive wage reductions
  • No access to documents – passport, ID, wage slips, bank cards
  • Restriction of movement and confinement, to the workplace or to a limited area


Domestic servitude

Victims being forced to work in private households, performing tasks such as childcare and housekeeping, over long hours for little pay.

There are many signs to look out for including the following:

  • Poor living conditions – someone living in dirty cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and / or living and working at the same address.
  • Few or no personal effects – victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
  • Reluctance to seek help – victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear police



Criminal activities

Victims are being forces to take part in criminal activities such as cannabis farming.

There are many signs to look out for including:

  • Properties where the curtains or blinds are closed at a property all the time
  • Pungent smell coming from the property
  • Unusual noises coming from the property
  • Visitors at unusual times day or night