Modern slavery encompasses slavery, human trafficking, forced or compulsory labour and domestic servitude.
In March 2015, the Modern Slavery Act was introduced by the UK government to give protection to victims and hand-down harsh penalties to offenders, who now face up to life imprisonment if they are convicted of modern slavery offences.
Individuals working in the country illegally due to their immigration status will often be victims of abuse and exploitation, or caught in a situation now defined as modern slavery.
There are several warning signs that may suggest modern slavery is taking place, such as:
- Physical appearance – Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, and look malnourished or unkempt.
- Isolation – Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own and seem under the control or influence of others.
- Few or no personal effects – Victims may have no identification documents and few personal possessions. They may wear the same clothes every day and what clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
- Restricted freedom of movement – Victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had travel documents or passports removed.
- Unusual travel times – They may be dropped off or collected for work on a regular basis either very early in the morning or late at night.
- Reluctant to seek help – Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcement. They may not know who to trust or where to get help, fearing deportation or violence against them or their family.
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