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Modern day slavery in London – Your Duty to identify and protect victims


Modern day slavery can take many forms including the trafficking of people.  Forced labour servitude and slavery.  


According to the Human Trafficking Foundation there is considerable evidence that London is the hub for human trafficking and slavery in the UK, and yet many staff in statutory authorities, from social workers to housing officers struggle to identify many cases even though there is now a statutory duty to notify the Home Office about potential victims.


You can learn to spot the signs if a person:

  • acts as if instructed by another, as though they are forced or coerced to carry out specific activities

  • demonstrates signs of physical or psychological abuse, such as lacking self esteem, seeming anxious, bruising or untreated medical conditions

  • seems to be bonded by debt or has money deducted from their salary

  • has little or no contact with family or loved ones

  • is distrustful of authorities

  • has threats made against themselves or family members

  • is not in possession of their own legal documents



'Safeguarding Adults' just means protecting people who are at risk of harm or abuse because they are vulnerable in some way perhaps because of age, disability or illness.

The LSAB aims to ensure: 'Safeguarding is everybody's business: that all adults at risk in Lewisham will be protected from harm and be helped to protect themselves, wherever and whenever those needs arise'.


Most victims come to light after they have escaped the trafficking situation.  However this is not always the first time they used the NHS.  Points of contact during the exploitation occur in:

  • GP surgeries

  • Walk-in centres

  • A&E departments

  • Sexual health clinics

  • Terminations of pregnancies


The Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduced a duty to notify the Home Office about suspected victim of trafficking for selected public authorities. The NHS is exempt from this duty but encouraged to make voluntary notifications.


If you are worried that someone you know is involved in modern slavery or want to know more about your duty to identify and protect victims, please look at this presentation from the Human Trafficking Foundation or visit these useful websites.