Slavery is an umbrella term for activities involved when one person obtains or holds another person in compelled service.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • forced to work through mental or physical threat
  • owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on his/her freedom

The following definitions are encompassed within the term 'modern slavery' for the purposes of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

These are:

  • 'slavery' is where ownership is exercised over a person
  • 'servitude' involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion
  • 'forced or compulsory labour' involves work or service extracted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily
  • 'human trafficking' concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them.

For further information please refer to the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

The Centre for Social Justice Report (2013) further states that the term 'modern slavery' includes the definitions below:


  1. Recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons.
  2. By means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person; (where a child is involved, the above means are irrelevant).
  3. For the purposes of exploitation, which includes (but is not exhaustive):
    • Prostitution
    • Other sexual exploitation
    • Forced labour
    • Slavery (or similar)
    • Servitude etc.
    • Removal of organs


The status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised (129 Convention; approved in defining Art 4 ECHR: Siladin v France (ECHR, 2005).


An obligation to provide one’s services that is imposed by the use of coercion, and is to be linked with the concept of ‘slavery’ described above (Siladin v France, ECHR (2005).


All work or service which is exacted from any person under the menace of any penalty and for which the said person has not offered himself voluntarily.

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If someone has forced or tricked you to do anything you are not comfortable with, you may be a victim of human trafficking and modern day slavery. Human trafficking and modern day slavery is more common than many people think; there are at least 13,000 victims in the UK.

Human trafficking and modern day slavery includes the threat or use of force, coercion, deception and abuse of power to control another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation can include:

  • sexual exploitation for example, forcing someone to have sex for money
  • forced labour for example, forcing someone to work long hours, in hard conditions, and to hand over most if not all of their wages
  • domestic servitude for example, forcing someone to perform household tasks such as child care, and house-keeping over long hours, and for little if any pay
  • trafficking people in order to use their internal organs for transplant without their permission

Both adults and children can be trafficked, and they can come to the UK from other countries or they can be moved within a country, for example from Manchester or the Valleys to Cardiff.

Human trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud, coercion or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. It is a form of modern slavery.

Trafficking involves the transportation of people in the UK in order to exploit them by the use of force, violence, deception, intimidation or coercion. This exploitation includes commercial, sexual and bonded labour. Trafficked people have little choice in what happens to them and often suffer abuse due to violence and threats made against them or their families. In effect, they become commodities owned by traffickers, used for profit.

These three elements all form part of trafficking:

  • The act: recruiting, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons
  • The means: force, fraud, coercion, deception
  • The purpose: exploitation

Human trafficking is a crime. It does not always involve international transportation. Victims include those transported around the UK into exploitative situations, those born into servitude, or those who escape a trafficker before being exploited. It also includes anyone who once consented to work for a trafficker or slave master or participated in a crime as a direct result of being enslaved.

    • Sexual exploitation - this includes but is not limited to sexual exploitation and sexual abuse, forced prostitution and the abuse of children for the production of child abuse images/videos. In 2016, 25% of all reported potential trafficking victims in the UK were victims of sexual exploitation.
    • Domestic servitude - this involves a victim being forced to work in usually 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 are 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 occurs 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. In 2016, 84% of all reported forced labour victims were male.
    • Criminal exploitation - 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. The most prevalent subtype of labour exploitation reported is within the block paving and tarmacking industry.
    • Other forms of exploitation – organ removal; forced begging; forced benefit fraud; forced marriage and illegal adoption.
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