Modern Slavery and Exploitation

What is modern slavery?

The London Anti-Slavery Working Group’s Adult Modern Slavery Protocol for Local Authorities helpfully explains the commonly used terminology: modern slavery, human trafficking, and exploitation.  It is important to provide a common understanding for partners organisation involved in addressing these crimes.

Human trafficking

Defined by the Palermo Protocol, all three elements below are required for adult trafficking cases.  The ‘means’ is not required for child trafficking cases as a child cannot give informed consent.

  1. The Act (Movement of people)
  2. The Means (Coercive behaviour)
  3. The Purpose (Exploitation)

Modern Slavery

Defined by the Modern Slavery Act 2015, it encompasses human trafficking and all forms of exploitation.

  • The Means (Coercive behaviour)
  • The Purpose (Exploitation)


  1. The Act Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
  2. The Means threat or use of force, withholding documents, ritual oaths, financial control, debt bondage, abduction, blackmail, abuse of power over a vulnerability, deception, ‘Stockholm syndrome’, grooming, restriction of movement, threats to friends or family, social stigma.
  3. The Purpose including but not limited to sexual exploitation, labour exploitation and bonded labour, domestic servitude, criminal exploitation, forced fraud, forced marriage and organ harvesting.

Types of modern slavery in the UK

  • Labour Exploitation – forced to work directly for offenders’ in businesses and sites that they own or control.  The main method of exploitation is not to paying or illegally underpaying the victims.   
  • Domestic Servitude – forced to undertake household chores and childcare for partners/partner relatives/others and confined to the house.
  • Sexual Exploitation – forced sex work or working in the commercial sex industry (pornography, lap dancing, telephone lines etc.); those manipulated or coerced into sexual activities of any kind for another person’s gain.
  • Criminal Exploitation – victims are manipulated or coerced or trafficked for the purposes of any illegal activities i.e., County lines, drug trafficking; cuckooing (taking over a person’s property); forced street crime (shoplifting, begging etc.,) cannabis cultivation and sham marriages.
  • Cultural Exploitation - those manipulated or coerced using religious, social or cultural beliefs e.g., female genital mutilation (FGM), radicalisation, forced marriage.

The anti-slavery commissioner has recently identified 17 types of modern slavery