Modern slavery includes activities connected to the exploitation of others for criminal gain. Most typically this is for financial benefit though that is not always the primary motivation. Modern slavery offences cover a wide range of abuse including the coercion and control of other people for the purposes sexual exploitation, labour exploitation, criminal exploitation domestic servitude, financial exploitation or organ harvesting.

Offences under the Modern Slavery Act also encompass:

  • Forced or compulsory labour. This includes any work or service which is extracted from a victim under threat, menace or deception; and for which the victim would not offer themselves voluntarily.
  • Human trafficking. This involves the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of victims for the purposes of exploitation; within a single country or across borders; and either with or without the victim’s consent.

Victims of modern slavery or human trafficking can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. They are often vulnerable people who are tricked or threatened into involvement with a work, or potentially criminal activity. They are then not able to leave or report their exploitative situation due to fear, coercion or physical intimidation. It is possible that people may not recognise themselves as victims of modern slavery even though they could be being illegally exploited.


  • Slavery: The status or condition of a victim over whom rights of ownership are exercised by their exploiter.
  • Servitude: Linked to slavery, but includes an obligation to provide services to the exploiter and to live on the exploiter’s property.
  • Forced or compulsory labour: All work or service (whether lawful or unlawful) which is exacted from a victim under threat or menace and for which the victim does not offer themselves voluntarily.
  • Trafficking: The arrangement or facilitation of travel, transport or accommodation of another person for the purposes of exploitation.

Offences under the Modern Slavery Act are committed if:

  • A person holds another in slavery or servitude.  The exploiter knows, or could be reasonably expected to know, that another person is being held in slavery or servitude where rights of ownership over the victim are exercised; and in servitude, where the provision of services to the exploiter are also expected.
  • A person requires another to perform forced or compulsory labour. The exploiter knows, or could be reasonably expected to know, that another person is being required to perform forced or compulsory labour (whether that lawful or unlawful) as a result of threat or menace, and/or for which the victim had not offered themselves voluntarily.
  • A person arranges or facilitates the recruitment, travel and/or accommodation for a victim with a view to them being exploited. Travel can be either local, national or international. It is irrelevant whether the victim consents to the travel or whether they are an adult or a child. The offence also includes involvement in the potential recruitment, transport or transfer of the victim; harbouring or receiving them; or transferring or exchanging control over the victim.

It is important that the initial actions taken by police in responding to these cases are fully effective in terms of;

  • the safeguarding and protection of victims;
  • the recording and reporting of potential crimes under the Modern Slavery Act, and;
  • Fulfilling our responsibility to identify and investigate the form of exploitation that victims may have been subject to.

For more in depth guidance visit the College of Policing Authorised Professional Practice guide for Modern Slavery.


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About Us

This is the website of the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Programme.  We work to support police officers, police staff and law enforcement partners to lead the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. 

Our aim is to help to deliver a consistent response to protecting victims and targeting offenders - and to work with partners to ultimately help prevent exploitation from having a place in our society.

Contact Us

You can contact the Modern Slavery Police Transformation programme by email at Modern Slavery

Alternatively colleagues in UK law enforcement can visit the modern slavery community on POLKA.