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Modern slavery and trafficking

Modern slavery encompasses slavery, servitude, and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.

Modern slavery is the term used within the UK and is defined within the Modern Slavery Act 2015. The Act categorises offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour and Human Trafficking.

These crimes include holding a person in a position of slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour, or facilitating their travel with the intention of exploiting them soon after.

Although human trafficking often involves an international cross-border element, it is also possible to be a victim of modern slavery within your own country.

It is possible to be a victim even if consent has been given to be moved.

Children cannot give consent to being exploited therefore the element of coercion or deception does not need to be present to prove an offence.

Modern slavery is a serious crime. It can also include sexual and criminal exploitation. 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.

Traffickers and slave masters use whatever means they have at their disposal to coerce, deceive and force individuals into a life of abuse, servitude and inhumane treatment.

Information for the Public - how to report crimes of modern slavery

In the first instance the point of contact for all modern slavery crimes should be the local police force. If you have information about modern slavery crimes - those who are committing such crimes or where victims are at risk that requires an immediate response dial 999.

If you hold information that could lead to the identification, discovery and recovery of victims in the UK, you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.

Alternatively you can make calls anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Information for frontline professionals - how to report modern slavery

It is your duty to report any suspicions of modern slavery or trafficking to the police.

Joint working between the police, social services and health is essential in tackling this crime, safeguarding and supporting the victims and prosecuting offenders.

If you suspect that someone is a victim of modern day slavery and they meet the adult safeguarding threshold, local safeguarding children and adults should be followed.

You can also access the Safeguarding Children referral form.

The duty to notify and the National Referral Mechanism

From 1 November 2015, specified public authorities are required to notify the Home Office about any potential victims of modern slavery they encounter in England and Wales. This is done through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

The NRM is a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.

The NRM is part of the National Crime Agency.

Any Modern Slavery crime should always be reported to the National Crime Agency through the National Referral Mechanism.

How to refer cases to the National Referral Mechanism?

Modern slavery is a complex crime and may involve multiple forms of exploitation. Victims may not be aware that they are being trafficked or exploited, and may have consented to elements of their exploitation, or accepted their situation. If you think that modern slavery has taken place, the case should be referred to the NRM so that a competent authority can fully consider the case. You don't need to be certain that someone is a victim.

If you think you have encountered a person who has been a victim of modern slavery in England and Wales, you should complete the NRM form and send it to the relevant competent authority.

Completing this NRM form is sufficient to satisfy this duty to notify as long as all of the sections marked with a † are completed.

Adults will only be accepted into the NRM if the consent section of the form has been completed. Informed consent requires that the potential victim have the NRM, the referral process, and potential outcomes, clearly explained to them.

However, if the potential victim does not want to be referred to the NRM, then an MS1 form should be completed and sent to The MS1 form can be anonymous.

Therefore, a notification to the Home Office will either be:

  • A referral to National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for children and adults who consent. The NRM provides victims of modern slavery with access to a range of support and assists in developing our understanding of modern slavery, which can be used to improve our operational response and support victims; OR
  • An anonymised notification to the Home Office for adults who do not consent

First Responders

There is now an online referral form that should be used by all First Responders in the uk to:

  • refer potential victims of any age to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM)
  • help potential victims receive support and medical care
  • notify the Home Office of potential victims (Duty to Notify)

Help and support for victims

If you are identified as a victim of slavery, then you will be entitled to help and protection from the UK government under the National Referral Mechanism.

Sunderland City Council's Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement

Sunderland City Council is committed to understanding and mitigating risks of slavery and human trafficking in its corporate activities and supply chains and has published its:

in accordance with section 54(1) of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the "Act"). This statements makes clear the Council's commitment to tackling modern slavery by setting out the Council's actions to understand all potential modern slavery risks related to its business and the steps it has taken to aim to ensure that there is no slavery or human trafficking in its own business, and its supply chains.  The latest statement relates to actions and activities during the financial year 1st April 2018 to 31st March 2019.

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