What is Modern Slavery and Child Trafficking?

Modern slavery is a serious and brutal crime in which people are treated as commodities and exploited for criminal gain. The true extent of modern slavery in the UK, and indeed globally, is unknown. Modern slavery, in particular human trafficking, is an international problem and victims (who may be European Economic Area
(EEA) or non-EEA nationals) may have entered the UK legally, or on forged documentation or clandestinely, or they may be British citizens living in the UK. (Home Office, 2019)


Modern slavery includes human trafficking, and slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour. Exploitation takes a number of forms, including sexual exploitation, forced manual labour and domestic servitude, and victims come from all walks of life. 

What are the Signs of Modern Slavery?

Signs specific to child victims: 

  • Absent parent or legal guardian: Is the child being cared for by an adult that is not their parent or legal guardian and is the quality of the relationship between the child and their adult carer poor and a reason for concern? Some children may not be attending school or registered with a GP.

  • Multiple children: Are there a number of unrelated children found at one address? Does the child move location frequently?

  • Identity documents: Missing, altered or false documentation is common.


  • Missing children: Children who come into contact with authorities often disappear and are re-trafficked.


  • Grooming Children may not always demonstrate outward signs of distress and may have a ‘bond’ with those exploiting them and have been groomed to not disclose their abuse – however, they are likely to be very scared and traumatised.

Signs that a property might be hiding a victim of modern slavery: 

Outside the property

  • Are there bars covering the windows of the property or are they permanently covered on the inside?

  • Are the curtains always drawn?

  • Do the windows have reflective film or coatings applied to them?

  • Does the entrance to the property have CCTV cameras installed?

  • Is the letterbox sealed to prevent use?

  • Is there any sign that electricity may have been tacked on from neighbouring properties or directly from power lines?


Inside the property

  • Is access to the back rooms of the property restricted or are doors locked? 

  • Is the property overcrowded and badly cared for?

From the UK Government's Modern Slavery Briefing (2019)

Support and Resources


If a child is at immediate risk of significant harm, please dial 999.


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Use Home Office guidance find out how you can report cases of modern slavery in the UK if you’re a First Responder.

Report Modern Slavery

Please call or email and follow up with a Multi-agency Referral Form.

Make a referral

Local Support

The Gaia Centre offers a range of services to those in Lambeth experiencing gender-based violence, including victims of modern slavery and trafficking.

Advice and support for professionals worried that a young person may be a victim of trafficking.

Child Trafficking Advice

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Refer to the London Child Protection procedures to safeguard children who are victims of trafficking or exploitation. 

Safeguarding Procedures

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© 2020 Lambeth Safeguarding Children Partnership