Spotlight on Modern Slavery

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Walthom Forest

October 2021: Spotlight on Modern Slavery

This newsletter is brought to you by the Strategic Partnership Boards comprising Waltham Forest Safeguarding Children’s Board, Safeguarding Adults Board, Health & Wellbeing Board and SafetyNet (our Community Safety Partnership). It’s aimed at everyone working with children and adults who live in Waltham Forest. Please share with your colleagues and encourage them to sign up to get it regularly.

Monday 18 October 2021 is Anti-Slavery Day and is an opportunity to raise awareness of Modern Slavery. This is a renewed priority area for the Strategic Boards during 2021 - 2023  and we will be re-focussing attention as a partnership on areas of policy and practice where improvements can still be made.

What is modern slavery?

It covers a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. They are tricked or threatened into work and may feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not recognise themselves as a victim.

Types of modern slavery

Human trafficking: Human trafficking involves the recruitment or movement of people for exploitation by the use of threat, force, fraud, or the abuse of vulnerability.

Forced labour: victims are forced to work against their will, often working very long hours for little or no pay in dire conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It can happen in many sectors of the economy

Sexual exploitation: victims are pressurised to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts, such as prostitution, escort work and pornography. Women and children make up the majority of victims, but men can also be affected

Criminal exploitation: often controlled and maltreated, victims are forced into crimes such as cannabis cultivation or pickpocketing against their will. They might also have their benefits taken over by their exploiter

What are indicators of modern slavery?

Modern slavery could be happening in Waltham Forest so it’s important to recognise the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime.

The signs aren’t always obvious but there are some that you might notice: 

  • do they look scruffy, malnourished or injured?
  • are they acting anxious, afraid or unable to make eye contact?
  • are they doing long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or have the wrong equipment for the job?
  • is where they are living overcrowded, poorly maintained or are the curtains always closed?
  • do they behave like they’re being instructed by someone else, picked up/dropped off at the same time and place every day or don’t have access to money or identification?

Snapshot of modern slavery in the UK

type of exploitation
  • 10,613 potential victims were referred in 2020
  • Of these potential victims - 5,087 were adult victims and 4,946 were child victims
  • 74% adult victims were male and 26% were female victims
  • Average time from referral to conclusive grounds decision: 339 days
  • Top three common nationalities of exploited adults: 1) Albanian, 2) British, 3) Vietnamese

Safeguarding against modern slavery

If an adult, young person or child is considered to be 'at risk', the local authority has a legal duty to make enquiries.

Waltham Forest is a trauma-informed local authority, which means everyone should take a person-centred approach:

• Treat them as a victim, not a criminal
• Be able to recognise signs of trauma
• Create a safe, calm and consistent environment
• Make potential victim feel you have time to listen
• Focus on their needs now and in the future; avoid re-traumatising

National referral mechanism (NRM)

What is the NRM? The national referral mechanism (NRM) is used to identify and refer potential victims of modern slavery and make sure they receive appropriate support.

A decision, through the NRM, that an individual is a (potential) victim of modern slavery brings important entitlements to support: accommodation, financial / material assistance, legal advice etc. 

Who makes NRM referral?

In England and Wales, a ‘first responder organisation’ is an authority that is authorised to refer a potential victim of modern slavery into the NRM

You can still report modern slavery if you’re not a first responder. Call the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 or report it online.

If you’re unsure, you should check what the referral pathway is in your organisation.

What about consent?

Children: If the potential victim is under 18, or may be under 18, an NRM referral must be made. Child victims do not have to consent to be referred into the NRM and must first be safeguarded and then referred into the NRM process.

Adults: A victim of modern slavery must give informed consent in order to be referred to NRM. To give informed consent, the victim must understand:

• What the NRM is
• What are the possible implications of entering the NRM
• What are the support options if they do not enter the NRM
• Your duty of confidentiality to them

Find out more about NRM

In other news....

Join in FREE training, which is being delivered in support of Safeguarding Adults Week 2021 (15 to 21 November)

Monday 15 Nov, 2 to 3.30pm: Drugs, Alcohol and the MCA: assessing fluctuating mental capacity

Tuesday 16 Nov, 3 to 4pm: Hoarding: identifying fire risk, self-neglect and assessing mental capacity

Thursday 18 Nov, 2 to 3pm: Safeguarding and DBS: filling the gaps

FREE workshops for women and girls affected by sexual violence:

East London Rape Crisis are running a number of free online workshops aimed at women and girls who have experienced sexual violence at any point during their lives, more details here. Please share details with women and girls who might benefit from these sessions.

For any queries about these sessions please contact Rape Crisis direct:


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