Crimestoppers highlights signs of modern slavery to look out for as referrals of potential victims increases by 870%

A woman in silhouette
A woman in silhouette -Credit:PA

"Those who are victims need people like us to speak up on their behalf".

That's the message from Crimestoppers after National Crime Agency and Home Office statistics revealed an 870% rise in referrals of potential victims of modern slavery in the past 10 years. It is estimated that 130,000 people are currently subjected to slavery in the UK, according to the Anti-Slavery International and The Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

However, the true scale of people being exploited, abused and used as modern slaves is unknown as most victims suffer silently behind closed doors. This type of exploitation is typically hidden in plain sight without us even realising it, Crimestoppers reports.

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And now, the charity has launched a new campaign, asking people in the North East to raise the alarm about modern day slavery anonymously.

Crimestoppers, which allows people to report information anonymously, said the public may be interacting with, buying products from and receiving services from victims, without realising that they are modern day slaves. Modern slavery can take many forms including sexual exploitation, forced labour, domestic servitude, debt bondage and forced criminal and commercial sexual exploitation.

Crimestoppers is encouraging people to be aware of the signs of exploitation and to report their concerns anonymously in order for victims to be identified and safeguarded and for those behind it to face justice.

In recent years Unseen, the anti-slavery charity, has seen a worrying rise in calls about care sector workers being abused. It follows changes in the rules to make it easier for overseas social care staff to work in the UK, with the aim of filling thousands of job vacancies.

Most exploited care workers are women from overseas, working long and gruelling hours – often 20 hours each day. In some cases, they earn as little as £2 per hour. Those most at risk appear to be care workers from India, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

Some have paid huge sums of money to unscrupulous employers or recruitment agencies to come to the UK on special visas designed to fill vacancies in the care sector. Often the workers do not understand their rights in the UK, which leaves them vulnerable to further abuse.

Signs of modern slavery to spot:

  • Workers being transported between venues by their employer

  • Victims may be confined to their place of work

  • Limited freedom to leave or communicate with others

  • Long shifts without adequate breaks or rest

  • Victims may lack legal status or proper work permits

  • Personal and professional documents and I.D. held by employers

  • Underpayment or non-payment of wages

  • Multiple workers living in the same accommodation – especially multiple staff in one room

  • Signs of staff having to live in inappropriate spaces - floor/shed/out-house/garage

  • Looking to another to speak for them or someone insisting on speaking for others

  • Staff kept out of the way during a visit or engagement

  • Members of staff unable to communicate with their clients effectively

  • Signs of physical abuse such as unexplained injuries, bruises, or scars

  • Neglect in terms of health and safety.

Please contact the charity Crimestoppers and stay 100% anonymous by calling 0800 555 111 at any time or by completing a secure online form at A dedicated website and service for young people can be found at with advice on how to keep safe and how to report anonymously.

Fleur Brown, North East Regional Manager at the charity Crimestoppers, said: "Our charity knows that victims of modern slavery are living in fear of the people who have trafficked or enslaved them. We are fully behind efforts to get them out of their exploitative and often inhumane circumstances. They often do not know their rights or how to raise concerns.

"You could be someone who goes to a nail salon or to a car wash, or you might be someone visiting a care setting or attending an adult day care centre to visit an older relative. Those who are victims need people like us to speak up on their behalf, so please be aware so you can spot the signs of exploitation and contact us 100% anonymously.

"Crimestoppers UK Contact Centre is open 24/ 7, 365 days a year. We can be contacted via our website and on the phone. Your information can make a huge difference to someone's life."