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White Ribbon UK

is part of the global White Ribbon movement to end male violence against women.  It works to end male violence against women by engaging with men and boys, raising awareness, influencing change and providing resources to make change happen. White Ribbon UK encourages everyone and especially men and boys to make the White Ribbon Promise to never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women and girls.

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Dame Sara Thornton
Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM Independent Slavery Commissioner

Modern Day Slavery

This covers a range of exploitation including; human trafficking, sexual exploitation, forced labour, debt bondage, domestic servitude, criminal activities, child labour, child sexual exploitation (CSE) and forced and early marriage.   Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM is the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Anti Slavery Commissioner’s Strategic Plan 2019 – 2021

For further information visit:

View the Data:

Modern slavery is an umbrella term encompassing slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking. Victims of modern slavery are unable to leave their situation of exploitation, controlled by threats, punishment, violence, coercion and deception. Slavery violates human rights, denying people of their right to life, freedom and security. Modern slavery is a serious crime.  Individuals are exploited for little or no pay. Exploitation includes, but is not limited to, sexual exploitation, forced or bonded labour, forced criminality, domestic servitude and the removal of organs. 

Modern Slavery in the UK

The UK is both a country of destination, with thousands of victims arriving from other countries only to be exploited by criminals.  A source country with increasing numbers of British victims identified. Slavery takes many different forms and affects adults and children, males and females.  Those who are enslaved are exploited for the financial gain of their captors. The vulnerable are made to work in cruel conditions for long hours without pay. Examples include women and girls forced into prostitution for profit, young boys made to commit criminal acts against their will and men kept in slave-like conditions in factories.

Last year there was a total of 6,993 recorded victims of modern slavery in the UK.  This is a 36% increase on the year before. Victims came from 130 different countries, with the top 3 being the UK, Albania and Vietnam. 

The most common exploitation type recorded for potential victims exploited as adults and children was labour exploitation, a category which also includes criminal exploitation.

Slave masters and human traffickers in the UK will coerce and control their victims, keeping them in slavery for weeks, months or years at a time. Individuals are often deceived into working in slave-like conditions, and then threatened in order to keep them there. Victims are moved from abuser to abuser .  They are usually too afraid of their captors to risk escape, making slavery a hidden, complex crime.

The UK has an established system of support, namely, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) for those victims who do escape or are rescued  This was introduced in 2009. The NRM provides accommodation and other vital services for victims for a minimum of 45 days. The NRM exists outside statute, and many organisations also support victims of modern slavery before, during and after exiting the NRM.  Although modern slavery can involve the movement of people across an international border, it is also possible to be a victim within one’s own country; for example, last year the UK was in the top 3 countries of origin for all potential victims in the UK.

Dame Sara Thornton DBE QPM is the UK’s Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner. Part 4 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 created the role of the Commissioner.

Useful links:


Anti-Slavery Partnership Toolkit:

UKPAC Modern Day Slavery News and the latest helpline data  Modern Slavery Helpline – Quarter 4 Report 2018  This document and the hand book developed as a result are available here.

Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Survey Report  SIGBI Modern Slavery Booklet 2018 July 2018 Final_ (2)

FINAL Independent MSA Review Interim Report 2 – TISC      Independent Review of the Modern Slavery Act Second interim report: Transparency in supply chains


Child trafficking

is defined in the United Nations Palermo Protocol as the “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt” of a child for the purpose of exploitation.  The definition of child trafficking differs slightly from that of adults.  An extra stage for trafficking to be present. That of the 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.”  The Means stage is not required for the definition of child trafficking. This is not to say that this stage does not occur for child victims.  The definition recognises that a child cannot give informed consent to his or her own exploitation, even if he or she agrees to travel or understands what has happened.

How is a child defined?

A child is defined by the Palermo Protocol and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child as any person under the age of 18. How is a separated child defined? The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a separated child as “a child who has been separated from both parents, or from their previous legal or customary caregiver.  This might not necessarily from other relatives. This may, therefore, include a child accompanied by other adult family members.  How is an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child (UASC) defined? The Department for Education’s Statutory guidance for local authorities on the care of unaccompanied asylum seeking and trafficked children defines an unaccompanied asylum-seeking child as a “child who is applying for asylum in their own right and is separated from both parents and is not being cared for by an adult who in law or by custom has responsibility to do so”.

How is an unaccompanied child defined?

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines an unaccompanied child as a “child who has been separated from both parents and other relatives and are not being cared for by an adult who, by law or custom, is responsible for doing so”. 

Global trafficking statistics

Worldwide, 40.3 million men, women and children were victims of modern slavery on any day in 2016. Walk Free Foundation,Global Slavery Index, 2018

1 in 4 victims of modern slavery in 2016 were children – a total of 10.1 million child victims.

International Labour Organisation, Walk Free Foundation and International Organisation for Migration, Global Estimates of Modern Slavery: Forced Labour and Forced Marriage, 2017

UK trafficking statistics

6,993 potential victims of human trafficking were identified in 2018. National Crime Agency, National Referral Mechanism Statistics: End of Year Summary, 2018

Nearly half (45%) of all potential victims of trafficking (3,137 victims) were children aged 18 and under. National Crime Agency,National Referral Mechanism Statistics: End of Year Summary 2018

The United Kingdom is the most prominent country of origin for trafficked children.  A total of 1,421 reported cases followed by Vietnam (320), Sudan (232), Albania (217), Eritrea (196), Romania (74), Iraq (66), Eithiopia (63), Afghanistan (55), Nigeria (49) and Iran (39).

National Crime Agency, National Referral Mechanism Statistics: End of Year Summary, 2018 

A quarter of all trafficked children go missing from local authority care. ECPAT UK and Missing People, Still in Harm’s Way: An update report on trafficked and unaccompanied children going missing from care in the UK, 2018

Resources, reports briefings, legislation, guidance:

What action to take for any signs of county lines child trafficking and criminal exploitation contact:

  • Modern Slavery Helpline  08001218700
  • Crimestoppers 0800555111
  • Police 101
  • Afruca London 02077042261
  • Afruca Manchester 01612059274
  • ICTG service support line for child referral 08000434303


What Forced Marriage is

“Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intended spouses.” Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 16   

You have the right to choose who you marry, when you marry or if you marry at all.

Forced marriage is when you face physical pressure to marry (for example, threats, physical violence or sexual violence) or emotional and psychological pressure (eg if you’re made to feel like you’re bringing shame on your family).

Force marriage offences

Forced marriage is illegal in England and Wales. This includes:

  • taking someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the forced marriage takes place)
  • marrying someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they’re pressured to or not)

Forcing someone to marry can result in a sentence of up to 7 years in prison.

Forced marriage protection orders

You can ask the court for a forced marriage protection order.  Each order is unique, and is designed to protect you according to your individual circumstances. For example, the court may order someone to hand over your passport or reveal where you are.  In an emergency, an order can be made to protect you immediately.  Disobeying a forced marriage protection order can result in a sentence of up to 5 years in prison.

Forced marriage abroad

Contact the FMU if you think you’re about to be taken abroad to get married against your will.  Contact the nearest British embassy if you’re already abroad.

If someone you know is at risk

Contact the FMU if you know someone who’s been taken abroad to be forced into marriage.  Give as many details as you can, for example:

  • where the person has gone
  • when they were due back
  • when you last heard from them

The FMU will contact the relevant embassy.  If they’re a British national, the embassy will try to contact the person and help them get back to the UK if that’s what they want.

Support for victims

Read the handbook about being a survivor of forced marriage. It has details of organisations that can give you help and advice.

Get support if you’re a victim of forced marriage in Scotland.

Contact the Forced Marriage Unit (FMU) if you’re trying to stop a forced marriage or you need help leaving a marriage you’ve been forced into.

Forced Marriage Unit
Telephone: 020 7008 0151   From overseas: +44 (0)20 7008 0151   Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm  Out of hours: 020 7008 1500 (ask for the Global Response Centre)  Find out about call charges

Call 999 in an emergency.  A trained professional will give you free advice on what to do next.  They can also help you:

SI Canterbury
The international freight forwarder, John Shirley Ltd, has joined forces with anti-slavery charity Unseen, Canterbury Soroptimists and the UN to launch a new campaign May 2019 to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK and across Europe. Stickers (pictured above) will be put on 200 lorries, asking people who may have witnessed any incident that looks like human trafficking or slavery to report it.

SI Cockermouth & District

SI Cockermouth & District handing over New Start Bags for trafficked people to Cumbria Police.




Violence Against Women and Girls

The ending violence against women and girls strategy: 2016 to 2020

provides an overview of the wide range of actions the government is taking over a period of four years to end violence against women and girls.  In March 2019 a refreshed strategy was published to re-affirm commitments to tackling violence against women and children. The refreshed strategy sets out additional actions to strengthen our response through to 2020.  UKPAC intends to encourage programme action in the Specialist Domestic Violence Courts in the UK.  Click here to see Report

Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) #EndFGM

The International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) takes place February 6th.  FGM has been illegal in the UK since 1985. Laws passed then made it an offence to carry out FGM, but this legislation had to be updated for the Female Genital Mutilation Act 2003.  With increasing numbers of girls being taken abroad to be cut, it became apparent that more needed to be done. The spike in cases that occurred around the summer holidays has come to be known as ‘cutting season’.

The updated laws made it an offence to take a girl abroad to undergo FGM, for a UK national or resident to carry out the procedure abroad or help someone not a UK national to carry out the procedure abroad. The maximum penalty is 14 years in prison. Laws are in place to stop FGM, but legislation is only part of the solution. To make real change and end ‘cutting season’ we also have to work together to protect girls who are in danger.

How can you help stop FGM and ‘Cutting Season’?

Here are three things you can do:

  1. Raise Awareness Although more people are aware of FGM the majority are not aware of ‘cutting season’ and just how many girls are at risk. An important step in the fight to stop FGM is simply raising awareness of the problem. You can do this by sharing on social media: Facebook and Twitter using #EndFGM.
  2. Community Outreach Groups that practise FGM do so for a complex set of reasons. The procedure has existed for many generations. Just shouting that it’s wrong isn’t going to change their minds. We need to reach out to and work in partnership with resident communities in the UK if we want to stop FGM. The Government has been issuing grants to help, as part of their anti-FGM initiative. If you live in an area where this is happening see if you can volunteer to help. Even if you don’t it’s worth finding out how services and individuals can engage with communities. Voicing concerns is important, but it’s practical action that will have the most effect.
  3. Stay Vigilant Girls who might be taken abroad for ‘cutting season’ will be young, possibly not fully aware of why they are going, and if they are they may not feel able to speak out. It’s important to watch for warning signs if you know anyone who you believe is at risk. Potential warning signs could be:
    • A planned summer trip to a country known to practise FGM.
    • A girl may talk about visiting relatives for a special ceremony or event.
    • A holiday that includes additional time away before, or at the end of, the summer holidays, encroaching on school time.

If you suspect someone is in danger you can contact the NSPCC FGM helpline on 0800 028 3550. The line is free to call, anonymous and open 24/7. You should also call if you believe a girl has already undergone FGM. ‘Cutting season’ is a threat to potentially thousands of girls in the UK.

Reducing Women’s Imprisonment

UKPAC works with the Prison Reform Trust to help women caught up in the criminal justice system.  The Transforming Lives document has a single aim: fewer women sent to prison across the UK. To achieve this we seek systems change that will:
    • improve and strengthen the governance of women’s justice
    • promote problem solving justice especially for women whose offending is linked to abuse, trauma and coercive relationships
    • strengthen pathways into mental health and social care
    • promote non-custodial options and outcomes for mothers of dependent children
    • reduce the use of custodial remand
    • reduce the number and proportion of BAME and foreign national women in prison
    • end prosecution of trafficked women
    • strengthen multi-agency collaboration in local areas with greater use of early intervention and community orders for women.
    • give a voice to women with direct experiences of the criminal justice system
    • re-balance expenditure away from prisons and in favour of community-based women’s support services.  This is a tall order for an organisation with no legislative power, but it is amazing how far we have come since this document was published. The Ministry of Justice Female Offender Strategy was published on 28 June 2018.  We like to think that our lobbying contributed to this document supporting most of these objectives.  Thus by committing to reducing women’s imprisonment and recognising women’s needs and vulnerabilities within the criminal justice system. However, not enough funding and no timetable to drive it. We need to pressure government to adequately fund women’s support services and to influence the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review. If we all lobby, we are more likely to effect change.

Let’s make it happen

Let’s create the future