Understanding the challenges

Modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) is a challenging crime to investigate. The complexity of cases, the variety of crime, the multi-national and multi-ethnic background of participants, the multiple occurrences of abuse, the different forms of deception and coercion used to control victims and the way offences are interwoven with other forms of criminality sets modern slavery apart. The trauma suffered by vulnerable victims often over extended periods of time, means modern slavery has a devastating and corrosive effect of the lives of individuals and on society.



  • are unlikely to come forward to report MSHT crime and are often unwilling to participate in prosecutions. Fear for self or family, shame or personal embarrassment are reasons why victims often do not identify themselves and are unable to escape exploitation.
  • are often the subject of multiple forms of abuse.
  • will have been deceived or misled and once recruited, subject to control or coercion. They may feel isolated and unable to break out of the exploitative situation.
  • may accept their experience as being inevitable given the limited alternative choices available to them. They may even not understand that what is happening to them is wrong.
  • can often feel frightened or uncomfortable working with the police

Please see the Victim Infographic in Web links to the right of the page


  • seek financial gain or sexual gratification for themselves or another by exploiting their victims
  • do not consider victims as human beings seeing them instead as property. Victims may be bought and sold in exchange for other items.
  • establish controlling relationships with victims who come to rely on their captors.
  • seek multiple ways to extract maximum value from victims through sexual or labour exploitation, benefit and identity fraud or domestic servitude.
  • rarely act alone, working with associates or other members of a crime group.
  • may have specific or defined roles within crime groups.

Please see the Offender Infographic in Web links to the right of the page

Challenges for police first responders, police investigators and prosecutors:

  • Few police officers had experience of dealing with cases of MSHT
  • There was limited training available to police and prosecutors when the Modern Slavery Act was enacted.
  • There was limited guidance documents available to assist officers when initially dealing with or investigating incidents of MSHT
  • The limited contribution victims may make to investigations presented new challenges.
  • The nature and complexity of cases places significant demands on officers.
  • Investigations require detailed planning and analysis.
  • The need for extensive collaboration with the other forces, agencies and CPS.
  • An international dimension requiring collaboration with overseas law enforcement partners.
  • The collection, interpretation and collation of multiple sources of evidence.
  • A concerted effort on victim management and support to achieve successful outcomes.




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About Us

This is the website of the NPCC Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime (MSOIC) Unit.  We work to support police officers, police staff and law enforcement partners to lead the fight against modern slavery,  human trafficking and OIC. 

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 NPCC Modern Slavery and Organised Immigration Crime Unit by email at Modern Slavery

Alternatively colleagues in UK law enforcement can join the Policing Slavery and Human Trafficking Group on Knowledge Hub.