spot the signs
of modern slavery

Modern slavery is real and happening all around us. The good news is you can play a part in stamping out exploitation by learning to spot the signs. 

Call the UK Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline on 08000 121 700

Here are the most common signs of modern slavery and exploitation – starting with general signs and then detailing signs of:

general signs of modern slavery


They’re rarely allowed to travel on their own

Appear to be under the control of others

Tend not to interact with other people

Seem unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work

Have relationships which don’t seem right – for example, a young teenager appearing to be the boyfriend/girlfriend of a much older adult.

restricted freedom of movement

They don’t have documents that would allow them to travel – passports, ID, etc.

Limited opportunities to move freely

Few personal possessions

Wear the same clothes day-in day-out.

reluctance to seek help

Avoiding eye contact

Appearing frightened, or hesitant to talk to strangers

Fear of law enforcers

Fear of deportation

Unsure who to trust or where to get help

Fear of violence to them or their family.

physical appearance

Signs of physical or psychological abuse, such as untreated injuries, anxiety, agitation, or appearing to be withdrawn and neglected

They look malnourished or unkempt

Wear clothes that are unsuitable for their work.

poor living conditions

They’re living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation

Working and living at the same address.

unusual travel arrangements

They’re always be dropped off at/ collected from work; and very early in the morning or late at night

Children dropped off/ picked up in private cars or taxis at unusual times and in places where it isn’t clear why they’d be there.

spot the signs of labour exploitation

The following could indicate someone is being exploited for their labour:

Signs of psychological or physical abuse

Appearing frightened, withdrawn or confused

They appear to not be free to move and/or are always accompanied

They’re transported to and from work, perhaps with a number of people in one vehicle

Lack protective equipment, suitable clothing or training to safely do their job

Lack access to their own documents, such as ID or passport; an employer may have confiscated them

Working unusually long hours.

They do not have a contract, are paid less than the National Minimum Wage, or not paid at all