Cumbria Safeguarding Adults Board - Modern Slavery

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Modern Slavery

A potential victim of Modern Slavery was rescued from a shed in Cumbria last week where it is suspected he had lived for 40 years.  Officers from the Gang Masters & Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) were supported by officers from Constabulary, the National Crime Agency and Housing Officers to bring the victim to safety.  Arrests were made and investigations continue.


What is Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery is a serious crime. It encompasses slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Modern slavery victims can often face more than one type of abuse and slavery, for example if they are sold to another trafficker and then forced into another form of exploitation.

A person is trafficked if they are brought to (or moved around) a country by others who threaten, frighten, hurt and force them to do work or other things they don’t want to do.

The term Modern Slavery captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together.   These include but are not limited to:

  • Sexual exploitation - This includes but is not limited to sexual exploitation, sexual abuse and forced prostitution.
  • Domestic servitude - This involves a victim being forced to work in predominantly private households, usually performing domestic chores and childcare duties. Their freedom may be restricted and they may work long hours often for little or no pay, often sleeping where they work.
  • Forced labour - Victims may be forced to work long hours for little or no pay in poor conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It can happen in various industries, including construction, manufacturing, laying driveways, hospitality, food packaging, agriculture, maritime and beauty (nail bars). Often victims are housed together in one dwelling.
  • Criminal exploitation - This can be understood as the exploitation of a person to commit a crime, such as pick-pocketing, shop-lifting, cannabis cultivation, drug trafficking and other similar activities that are subject to penalties and imply financial gain for the trafficker


What are the signs?

Signs of various types of slavery and exploitation are often hidden, making it hard to recognise potential victims. Victims can be any age, gender or ethnicity or nationality.  Whilst by no means exhaustive, this is a list of some common signs;

  • Legal documents - Is the person in possession of their legal documents (passport, identification and bank account details) or are these being held by someone else? Victims will often be forced to use false or forged identity documents.
  • Medical care - Does the person have old or serious untreated injuries? Have they delayed seeing a healthcare professional, and are they vague, reluctant or inconsistent in explaining how the injury occurred?
  • Appearance - Does the person look malnourished, unkempt, or appear withdrawn? Are they suffering physical injuries? Do they have few personal possessions and often wear the same clothes? What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work.
  • Behaviour - Is the person withdrawn or appear frightened, unable to answer questions directed at them or speak for themselves and/or an accompanying third party speaks for them? If they do speak, are they inconsistent in the information they provide, including basic facts such as the address where they live? Do they appear under the control/influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work? Many victims will not be able to speak English Fear of authorities Is the person afraid of the authorities? Are they scared of removal or what might happen to their families?
  • Debt bondage - Does the victim perceive themselves to be in debt to someone else or in a situation of dependence?
  • Context - Victims may often encounter authorities whilst being trafficked from one area to another or if found in a situation that potentially criminalises them, such as a police raid or an immigration raid.


The Modern Slavery Act 2015 is designed to tackle slavery in the UK and consolidate previous offences relating to trafficking and slavery. Life imprisonment.  This legislation puts a responsibility on public authorities to report victims and their circumstances to the Secretary of State.

Public authorities includes;

  • a chief officer of police for a police area,
  • the chief constable of the British Transport Police Force,
  • the National Crime Agency,
  • a county council,
  • a county borough council,
  • a district council,
  • the Gangmasters Licensing Authority


from Cumbria Constabulary:

Our priority is the safety and wellbeing of victims and the prevention of damage to individuals and their communities. We will also pursue those involved in any trafficking offences, particularly those who use organised criminal networks to carry out offences”


If you suspect that a person is at risk:

  • Is the person in immediate danger or risk? If yes call 999
  • If you hold information that could lead to the identification, discovery and recovery of victims in the UK, you can contact the National Modern Slavery Helpline 0800 01 21 700 or report on line
  • Alternatively you can make calls anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or contact Cumbria Police on 101.

Further information: