Published: Tuesday, 17th October 2017

Residents are being urged to look out for the tell-tale signs of the 'hidden crime' of modern slavery.

Shockingly it's been revealed that there could be up to 13,000 victims of modern slavery currently in the UK but the victims are notoriously hard to identify.

The Royal Borough of Greenwich is flagging up the tell-tale signs so any adults or children suffering exploitation and loss of human rights can be saved. The Council has set up a dedicated contact point for people to report any suspicions.

What modern slavery looks like

Across the country people have been discovered in the most squalid conditions who are working round the clock as virtual prisoners with little or no pay.

Modern slavery, which is closely connected to people trafficking, exists in many forms and its victims are from all cultural backgrounds. Examples have been found in places such as nail bars and car washes as well as construction sites and within the food industry.

The crime also covers domestic servitude where a person works excessively doing chores or child care for little of no pay with severe restraints upon their freedom. Modern slavery also includes forced participation in the sex industry or criminal activity including drug running, cannabis cultivation, pick pocketing and shop lifting.

Shockingly, more than 75 per cent of those forced in into criminal behaviour across the county are children, as are 25 per cent of the reported victims of domestic servitude.

The main signs to look out for

Key signs include:

  • unsafe working conditions and inadequate protective clothing or equipment
  • working excessively long hours
  • groups of workers being ferried around at unusual times
  • people with no ID or travel documents
  • workers who appear nervous or who get others to speak on their behalf
  • people with injuries and signs of severe neglect
  • workers not integrated into the community
  • signs of domestic servitude include people rarely seen out of the home alone who don't have a dedicated sleeping place or don't eat with the rest of the family
  • signs of sexual abuse include properties with a large number of visitors at all hours and victims with tattoos or other marks to indicate ownership.

'We've set up a dedicated point of contact'

Councillor Jackie Smith, Cabinet Member for Community Safety and Environment, said: "It's horrifying that slavery exists to such an extent in this country and that victims suffering such a violation of their human rights can remain hidden.

"However, many people do unwittingly come into contact with victims while going about their daily lives but they are unsure where concerns can be reported. This is why we've set up a dedicated point of contact for people to get it touch.

"We're also highlighting the key signs of modern slavery for which alarm bells should be ringing. It's vital that everyone helps to identify victims so they can be rescued and given the support they deserve especially as many are too terrified to come forward themselves."

The Council is determined to rescue the victims

Cllr Smith added, "Many of the victims, including both children and adults, are brought into the country with false promises of jobs, education and even loving relationships. However, on arrival traffickers or slave masters use threats, violence and deception to exploit them for their own gain."

"The Council is determined to identify the ruthless who profiteer from modern slavery and rescue the victims. Tip offs from residents can play a big part in the Council's work with its partners to crack down on exploitation on its doorstep."

If you see it, report it

To report concerns, contact Peter Davis, the Head of Safeguarding Adults on

For more information visit the Royal Greenwich Safeguarding Adults Board website, which features some short films on modern slavery.