The London Anti-Slavery Working Group’s Adult Modern Slavery Protocol for Local Authorities provides clear definitions of modern slavery, human trafficking and exploitation to ensure a common understanding among partner organisations tackling these crimes.

Human trafficking

Human trafficking is defined by the Palermo Protocol and involves the following elements for adults, with the ‘means’ element not required for children:

  1. the act: movement of people
  2. the means: coercive behaviour
  3. the purpose: exploitation

Modern slavery

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 defines modern slavery as encompassing human trafficking and all forms of exploitation, involving:

  • the means: coercive behaviour
  • the purpose: exploitation

Detailed definitions

  1. the act: recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of persons.
  2. the means: threat or use of force, document withholding, ritual oaths, financial control, debt bondage, abduction, blackmail, abuse of power, 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: victims forced to work for offenders, often underpaid or not paid at all
  • domestic servitude: forced to undertake household chores and childcare, often confined to the house
  • sexual exploitation: forced sex work or involvement in the commercial sex industry; those manipulated or coerced into sexual activities for another’s gain
  • criminal exploitation: manipulated or coerced into illegal activities like drug trafficking, cuckooing, street crimes, cannabis cultivation, and sham marriages
  • cultural exploitation: coerced using religious, social or cultural beliefs, e.g. female genital mutilation (FGM), radicalisation and forced marriage

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

More information

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