Spot the signs of modern day slavery

Merseyside / December 01

Merseyside's Deputy Police Commissioner is today encouraging people to learn how to spot the warning signs of modern day slavery as she marks an international anti-slavery day.

Cllr Emily Spurrell made the appeal as she supported the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, held annually on December 2nd.

According to the International Labour Organisations, more than 40 million people worldwide are victims of modern slavery. In addition more than 150 million children are subject to child labour, accounting for almost one in 10 children around the world.

International Day for the Abolition of Slavery marks the date of the adoption, by the General Assembly, of the United Nations Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and of the Exploitation of the Prostitution of Others (resolution 317(IV) of 2 December 1949).

The focus of this day is on eradicating contemporary forms of slavery, such as trafficking in persons, sexual exploitation, the worst forms of child labour, forced marriage, and the forced recruitment of children for use in armed conflict.

Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner Cllr Emily Spurrell said: “Slavery was abolished more than 180 years ago in this country. Yet we know it’s still happening across the UK and here in Merseyside. People are being subjected to the most appalling abuse and exploitation.

“The hidden nature of this crime means it can be difficult to ascertain the extent of the problem in our region, but it is an issue we all need to face. Merseyside Police is now successfully prosecuting those who are enslaving and trafficking people in our region using the Modern Slavery Act, but they need the public’s help if they are to continue to find and rescue vulnerable people who are being trapped and imprisoned and bring their captors to justice.

“International Day for the Abolition of Slavery is an opportunity to re-emphasise our commitment to tackling this global issue. By putting this issue under the spotlight we can bring modern slavery out of the shadows and make sure people know how to spot the tell-tale warning signs so we can reach even more victims.”

How to spot the warning signs

  1. PHYSICAL APPEARANCE - Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn
  2. ISOLATION - Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control, influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work
  3. POOR LIVING CONDITIONS - Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and / or living and working at the same address.
  4. FEW OR NO PERSONAL EFFECTS - Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work
  5. RESTRICTED FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT - Victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, e.g. passports
  6. UNUSUAL TRAVEL TIMES - They may be dropped off / collected for work on a regular basis either very early or late at night.
  7. RELUCTANT TO SEEK HELP - Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.

If you suspect Modern Slavery is happening, call Merseyside Police on 101. In an emergency, always call 999.

You can also report your concerns to the Modern Slavery helpline 24/7 on 0800 0121 700* or by filing an online report.

You can also get more information on how to spot the warning signs on the Modern Slavery website.

If you have been affected by this issue, please visit for advice and information or to access more support.