How to report cases of modern slavery or human trafficking

  • In an emergency, call 999 or in a non-emergency call 101
  • If you have a suspicion, but are unsure whether to act on it, call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700

Trafficking gangs are dangerous criminals. Therefore it is vital that members of the public do not attempt to act on suspicions themselves, as they may put themselves or the victims at risk.

For more information on modern slavery and human trafficking, please visit the Home Office website, Hertfordshire Modern Slavery Partnership website or Unseen.

What is modern slavery?



Modern slavery and human trafficking is an organised crime which affects vulnerable men, women and children. It happens all over the world, including Hertfordshire.

The most widely cited definition of human trafficking is ‘The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving and receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.’ (United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons)

Modern slavery can take many forms. The different types of exploitation are:
• Sexual exploitation
• Child slavery
• Domestic servitude
• Forced labour
• Criminal exploitation
• Organ removal
• Benefit fraud
• Forced marriage

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

The list below, which is by no means exhaustive, outlines some of the signs that victims may show:
• The individual is not in possession of their own legal documents (passport, identification and bank account details)
• They have old or serious untreated injuries
• The person looks malnourished, unkempt or appears withdrawn
• They appear frightened
• They are unable to answer questions directed at them or speak for themselves as they are accompanied by somebody who speaks for them
• The individual seems afraid of authorities
• They perceive themselves to be in debt to somebody

Signs specific to children include:
• Absent parent or legal guardian; is the child being cared for by an adult that is not their parent or legal guardian, do they have a poor relationship?
• A number of unrelated children are found at one address
• The child has moved location frequently

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.