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Modern slavery

What it is and what to do if you think it’s happening

Modern slavery is the movement and trade of people of any age, gender or nationality often for the purpose of sexual exploitation, forced labour or organ harvesting, for profit.  Modern slavery can include victims that have been brought from overseas, and vulnerable people in the UK.

Human traffickers can use a variety of means to recruit, transport, receive and hide their victims such as threats or force, abduction, deception or false promises.

South Gloucestershire Council is committed to tackling all forms of Modern Slavery and have developed a Policy and a Transparency Statement that clearly commits to delivering legal and moral obligations. Both documents were approved by Cabinet in September 2017 and are available in the ‘Downloads’ section. In line with the Policy Statement, all council staff will receive some level of Modern Slavery awareness training over the next 12 months.

This commitment to tackling Modern Slavery is demonstrated by the funding the council allocated for this work as part of the 2017/18 budget. The council also assessed its operation in March 2017 and developed an Action Plan identifying key activities in the following thematic areas:

  • Leadership and accountabilities
  • Training and staff awareness
  • Reporting and referral processes
  • Managing referrals

The original self-assessment, a report monitoring delivery of the Action Plan, and the latest self-assessment forms are all available.

Spot the signs

There is no typical victim of modern slavery. Some victims don’t understand they’re being exploited and many don’t speak English

Signs of slavery are often hidden, making it even harder to recognise victims around us but here are some common signs to be aware of.

  • Poor physical appearance Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn and neglected. They may have untreated injuries.
  • Isolation Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control, influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work.
  • Poor living conditions Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, or living and working at the same address.
  • Few or no belongings Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out.
  • Restricted freedom of movement Victims may have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, such as passports.
  • Unusual travel times They may be dropped off or collected for work on a regular basis either very early or late at night.
  • Reluctance to seek help Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family. They may be accompanied by someone else who speaks for them.
  • Grooming Children may not always demonstrate outward signs of distress and may have a “bond” with those exploiting them and have been groomed to not disclose their abuse – however, they are likely to be very scared and traumatised.

Report it

Important: If you believe a person is being trafficked and is in immediate danger, you should call 999 straight away.

For adult victims of modern slavery please call South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Services on 01454 868007 Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm or 01454 615165 out of hours and at weekends.

For child victims of modern slavery please call South Gloucestershire Safeguarding Children Services on 01454 866000 Monday to Friday 9am – 5pm or 01454 615165 out of hours and at weekends.

Alternatively please call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121700 or the Salvation Army 24-hour confidential Referral Helpline on 0300 3038151. This is available anytime of the day or night to refer a potential adult victim of modern slavery or to receive advice.

You can also contact the Police non-emergency number 101 or Crimestoppers online or on 0800 555 111.

Anti-Slavery Partnership (ASP)

The ASP aims to find and support victims of modern slavery, disrupt criminal activity and prosecute those responsible. It’s made up of people from South Gloucestershire Council, Avon and Somerset Police, Unseen and other partner agencies

For more information about the ASP email

Help and support

The following agencies offer help and support:


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