What is modern slavery? 

Modern slavery is a growing problem globally and can take many forms, including the coercion, exploitation, deception and/or trafficking of people for labour, sex, criminality, organ removal, marriage and servitude. 

Although slavery is illegal in every country, it still happens all over the world, including in Hertfordshire. It can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender and ethnicity.

Spotting the signs

The signs of modern slavery and exploitation are often hidden, making it difficult to recognise potential victims. 

However the most common signs are: 

  • restricted freedom of movement and/or isolation 
  • no identification documents and/or these documents being held by someone else
  • poor working and/or living conditions
  • unusual travel times to and from work and/or unidentified locations
  • fear and/or reluctance to seek help
  • lack of knowledge and/or dependency on others
  • poor physical appearance (signs of abuse, unexplained injuries and/or malnourishment)
  • few personal possessions and/or clothes. 

Signs specific to children could also include: 

  • an unknown adult caring for a child i.e an absent parent or legal guardian
  • several unrelated children found at a single address
  • frequently moving or travelling to/from different locations
  • poor school attendance and withdrawal from activities, family, and friends 
  • tiredness and/or aggression 
  • travelling unaccompanied by an adult and/or in groups with persons who are not relatives
  • use of inappropriate and/or over-sexualised language
  • association with known or suspected gang members.   

Find out more about spotting the signs of modern slavery and labour exploitation

Reporting modern slavery or exploitation

  • In an emergency, call 999 
  • In a non-emergency, call 101 (request for the modern slavery unit) 
  • If you have a suspicion or concern but unsure whether to act on it, call the 24/7 charity-run Modern Slavery Helpline anonymously on 08000 121 700 or report your concern online. With access to interpreters in 200 languages, expert advisers can provide free and confidential advice and support
  • If you would like to receive support for yourself in Hertfordshire, contact the local charity Beacon, which provides a free and impartial service, on 03000 115 555 (option 3) or email info@hertfordshirebeacon.org 



Independent from the National Referral Mechanism, UK Government and the police, Beacon is a free and impartial service that can provide emotional and practical support around the impact and effects of exploitation to clients in Hertfordshire.  Run by the charity, Catch 22, Beacon supports their clients through allocation of a specially trained case manager. Victims can also self-refer.

Hertfordshire's response 

The Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership has over 150 members from across the county to tackle modern slavery and human trafficking in all its forms. It is made up of representatives from Hertfordshire County Council, the Police and Crime Commissioner's Office for Hertfordshire, Shiva Foundation, Hertfordshire Constabulary, district and borough councils, clinical commissioning groups and NHS Trusts, charities, government agencies and more.