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Modern Slavery and Trafficking


The Modern Slavery Act 2015 categorises modern slavery as offences of slavery, servitude and forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking.  This includes 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.  It is possible to be a victim of modern slavery within a person’s own country and therefore applies to UK and non-UK resident children.


Trafficking is “the act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the 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, for the purpose of exploitation” (from Article 3 of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children by United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, 2000).


Whilst traditionally we think of trafficking as cross-border between countries, the prevalence of criminal and sexual exploitation means that children are often trafficked between locations within the UK (or Essex) for the purpose of being exploited.  Trafficking can be a feature of sexual exploitation as children are moved between locations of abuse. It can also be a feature of criminal exploitation as a means of control over children who are moved to work (sometimes in isolating locations) to repay a debt (debt bondage) or in the sale of children as a commodity.


The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of modern slavery and trafficking and ensure they receive appropriate support.  Only first responders (Children’s Social Care and Police) can refer a child to the National Referral Mechanism, the form should also be copied to Essex Police at so that the police can build a more accurate picture of the referrals sent by all first responders.  



Modern Slavery Training


This training from The Home Office provides guidance on how to spot the signs of modern slavery, and what to do when you come across a potential victim of modern slavery. This programme aims to give you confidence to follow procedures swiftly and with compassion.


The Exploitation E-Learning package also has information about Modern Slavery.



Key Documents


SET Children and Adults Modern Slavery flowchart  


National Referral Mechanism: guidance for child first responders: This guidance provides details on how and when to refer a child to the national referral mechanism.


Safeguarding children who may have been trafficked; Practice guidance: This guidance is for those working with children who may have been recruited or transported for the purposes of exploitation.


CYP and Modern Slavery Guidance for Professionals - The Children's Society


7 Minute Briefing: The NRM and Transitioning in to Adulthood -NWG in partnership with Children's Society, Barnardos and the West Midlands Violence Reduction Partnership.


For parents/carers

Independent Guardian Service - Barnardos