Modern slavery and human trafficking

posted : 4th October 2017

The International Labour Organisation and the Walk Free Foundation recently published the Global Estimates of Modern Slavery.

An estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016. 24.9 million of them were in forced labour. That is, they were being forced to work under threat or coercion as domestic workers, on construction sites, in clandestine factories, on farms and fishing boats, in other sectors, and in the sex industry.

Modern slavery occurred in every region of the world, in Europe 3.6 out of every 1,000 people were victims.

There are more females (71%) than males (29%) in modern slavery. One in four victims are children.

On average, victims are held for 20.5 months before escaping or being freed. In case of sexual exploitation, the average is 23.4 months.

You can read the full report here


Migrant Help has been supporting victims of modern slavery throughout the UK for nearly 10 years. We work with victims to help them recover and gain the confidence to continue with their lives in a positive way. We also influence policies and educate about the signs of trafficking to contribute towards the eradication of this abhorrent crime.

Recently we’ve supported the Scottish Government’s Human Trafficking campaign aimed to raise awareness that human trafficking is happening now is Scotland.

Latest figures show there were 150 potential victims of trafficking identified in Scotland in 2016, a 52 per cent increase since 2013, however the Home Office estimate this is a tip of the iceberg with around 10-13,000 victims in the UK.

On 18 October we will mark the Anti-Slavery Day, an opportunity to raise awareness of human trafficking and modern slavery, and encourage government, local authorities, companies, charities and individuals to do what they can to address the problem.


How can you spot signs of human trafficking?

Personal Documents

  • Is the person in control of his/her own passport, travel documents and/or immigration documents?


  • Have they been threatened with harm to themselves or to their family?
  • Do they have bruises or other signs of physical abuse?


  • Does the person have little or no control over his/her own money?
  • Are they paid less than promised?
  • Do they receive little or no pay?


  • Does the individual defer to someone else to speak for him or her?
  • Is the person allowed to move without any restrictions?
  • Do they appear to have been coached on what to say?
  • Are they not allowed to socialise with neighbours, family or friends?
  • Are they doing a different job than expected?
  • Do they seem to have been deprived of food, water, sleep, medical care or satisfactory living conditions?

You can read stories of some of the people Migrant Help supported here.