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Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking

Modern day slavery and human trafficking remain issues which are largely hidden from the public view.

Victims can be difficult to identify and will rarely seek help because of fear of reprisals, threats of deportation and a mistrust of police. Perpetrators typically confiscate victim passports and give them little or no money, making it difficult for them to escape.

Modern slavery encompasses a range of issues including forced labour, domestic servitude, forced begging, benefit fraud and sexual exploitation.

Human Trafficking is when someone is brought into a country (or moved around it) by people who hurt, threaten, frighten and force them to work or do other things they don’t want to do.  

The different types of slavery and trafficking:

Labour exploitation

Victims often work very long hours for little or no pay. They may work in poor conditions and under the threat of verbal or physical threats of violence. Perpetrators may claim benefits on behalf of the victims, who will never see a penny.

Debt bondage

Victims are forced to work to pay off debts that they will never realistically be able to. For example, perpetrators may ‘charge’ them large fees in return for travelling to the UK, or for finding them employment.

Sexual exploitation

Victims are forced to perform sexual acts against their will, such as prostitution, escort work or pornography. They are often threatened with violence.

Criminal exploitation

Victims are forced into crimes against their will, such as theft or growing cannabis. Often victims are controlled and maltreated.

Domestic servitude

Victims are made to carry out housework and other domestic chores in private households with little or no pay. Their movements maybe restricted, they may have very limited or no free time and minimal privacy. They often sleep where they work.

What are the signs?

Victims of modern day slavery are often, but not exclusively, found working in industries such as nail bars, hand car washes and takeaways and restaurants. They may show signs of physical abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn on neglected.

Here are signs to look out for, which could indicate the person serving you is a victim;

Nail bars

  • Do they only speak a little English, or none at all?
  • Are they unusually quiet or untidy looking for a beautician?
  • Does someone always talk and take payment for them?
  • Can you only pay by cash?
  • Is there a lack of professional qualifications on display?
  • Could someone be living at the salon?

Car washes

  • Are workers dressed inappropriately for the job?
  • Does one person always take the payment?
  • Can you only pay by cash?
  • Do the workers seem uneasy, under pressure, fearful or withdrawn?
  • Does the manager seem controlling and intimidating?
  • Are there youngsters working at the site?
  • Is it strange that there are no staff vehicles parked on site?
  • Is there a caravan or container on site where staff could be living?

Takeaways and restaurants

  • Does the front of the premises look untidy and uncared for?
  • Is there a lack of professional qualifications or certificates on display?
  • Are the kitchen staff dressed inappropriately for the job?
  • Do the management and staff seem to lack a friendly relationship?
  • Are there signs of staff living on the premises?
  • Is the food of a lower quality than you would expect? 

What are we doing to tackle modern slavery?

Derbyshire Constabulary has a dedicated team which exists to identify and support victims of modern slavery and gather intelligence about the issue. Known as Operation Wilberforce, the team also seeks to educate people as to how they can spot the signs of slavery and trafficking and support investigations into this type of crime.

The force also supports the Derby and Derbyshire Modern Slavery Partnership. The partnership undertakes outreach and education work in the community to raise awareness of trafficking and modern slavery.

We also work with partners in Her Majesties Revenue and Customs, the National Crime Agency and others to disrupt offenders and bring them to justice. 

What can you do to help?

If you suspect human trafficking or modern day slavery you can call us on 101 or email Operation Wilberforce operationwilberforce@derbyshire.pnn.police.uk

If you don’t want to give us your name you can give information to
Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111 or use their online form.

Alternatively, you can call the National Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000
121 700
or complete their online form.

What support is there for victims?

There are a number of support options for victims. The National Referral Mechanism in the UK supports victims with accommodation, advice and care. Although some victims due wish to support police in prosecuting criminals, there is no requirement for them to do so in order to receive this support.

If you feel you are in a situation where you are being exploited, there is help available.

Call our 101 non-emergency number. If you are in immediate danger then call      999. If you have trouble speaking English we have translators on standby that can help you explain your situation. We can offer you protection and investigate the people who have hurt you.

You can also call the Salvation Army at any time on 0300 3038151. They can offer help to find you some temporary shelter, food and medical treatment. They can also find someone to help talk to you about your situation.

Download the Support for Victims of Human Trafficking leaflet. It’s available in Albanian, Czech, English, Hungarian, Lithuanian,  Ugandan, Mandarin, Polish, Romanian, Slovakian, Vietnamese and Yoruba.


Crimestoppers Read the Signs

Home Office – Slavery is closer than you think

Modern Slavery Helpline – Can you see me?


The following victim-focused documents are available in four languages:

More information

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