We all have a part to play in the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. Victims are often hidden in plain sight but with your help we can see victims identified and rescued, breaking the grip of this crime. Download ‘Spotting the Signs of Slavery’ factsheet to help raise awareness.

While no two victims experience exploitation in the exact same way, here are some of the common signs and patterns to look for:


  • Has indications of physical or psychological abuse
  • Has untreated injuries
  • Looks unkept, malnourished or untidy
  • Appears anxious/agitated or withdrawn and neglected
  • Always wears the same clothes and/or the clothes they wear may not be suitable for their type of employment
  • May engage in substance misuse, such as alcohol and drugs


  • Lives in unclean, cramped or overcrowded accommodation
  • Live and is employed at the same location
  • Does not have many/any personal possessions


  • Rarely allowed to travel on their own
  • Seems under the control or influence of others
  • Rarely interacts with or appears unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or place of employment
  • Has relationships that are not typical e.g. a boyfriend/girlfriend who is much older


  • Has no official identification documents
  • Has little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained e.g. passports
  • Is dropped off/collected for work either very early or late at night on a regular basis
  • Has unusual travel arrangements – children are dropped off/picked up in private cars/taxis at strange times and in unusual places


  • Avoids eye contact and/or appears frightened
  • Is hesitant to talk to strangers 
  • Fears police/people in authority for many reasons
  • Does not know who to trust or where to get help
  • Fears deportation
  • Fears violence to them or their family
  • Has limited English language skills



  • Shows signs of psychological or physical abuse. 
  • Appears frightened, withdrawn or confused
  • Does  not have free movement at work and is always accompanied
  • Lacks protective equipment or suitable clothing for work
  • Has not been trained to safely fulfil the requirements of the role
  • Does  not have access to their own documents, such as ID or their passport, with the employer having confiscated them
  • Has no employment contract and is not paid National Minimum Wage or is not paid at all
  • Is forced to stay in accommodation provided by the employer – this accommodation could be overcrowded
  • Lives on site
  • Is transported to and from work, potentially with multiple people in one vehicle
  • Is not willing to accept money or is afraid to accept payment
  • Works particularly long hours


  • Those selling sex may appear scared or intimidated and may show signs of physical abuse, including bruising, scarring and cigarette burns
  • Transported to and from ‘clients’
  • Closely guarded
  • ‘Branded’ with a tattoo indicating ownership
  • Has restricted or no access to their earnings
  • Has limited English vocabulary, restricted to sexualised words
  • Lives  at the same address as multiple other people with similar circumstances
  • Sleeps in the premises in which they work, which could indicate a brothel is in operation
  • Males visit their property during the day and night and only stay for a short time
  • Details of sexual activity such as cards and advertisements are found nearby


  • Held in their employer’s home and forced to carry out domestic tasks such as providing childcare, cooking and cleaning
  • Does not leave the house on their own, or their movements are  monitored
  • Works in excess of normal working hours
  • Does not have access to their own belongings, including their ID, but also items such as their mobile phone – this  isolates them
  • Has an abusive employer (both physically and/or verbally) 
  • Does not interact very often with the family they are employed by
  • Deprived of their own personal living space, food, water, or medical care
  • Stands out from other family members ie. may wear poorer quality clothing


  • Transported to or from the scene of a crime, including shoplifting, pick-pocketing or forced begging
  • Forced begging looks like a large group of adult or child beggars  being moved daily to different locations, but are returned to the same location every night
  • Do not benefit from the money or items they have obtained through the crimes they have been forced to commit
  • Forced to cultivate cannabis with their freedom of movement restricted, including being locked in a room
  • Do not  speak English or have a limited vocabulary
  • Forced or manipulated out of their home by drug dealers who use the home as a base to sell drugs
  • Young people are  forced to transport and sell drugs across county borders, which is known as County Lines


  • Has mood swings, including being angry, upset or withdrawn
  • Shows signs of inappropriate sexual behaviour
  • Dresses inappropriately for their age
  • Goes missing at night or weekends and may not be clear about their whereabouts
  • Has poor or no school attendance
  • Has gifts, presents or expensive items that they cannot explain