Modern slavery

Modern slavery can take many forms including the trafficking of people, forced labour, servitude and slavery.

The role of councils

Councils have a key role to play in tackling modern slavery, including in identifying and supporting victims and working in partnership locally.

Modern slavery: a council guide

The purpose of this LGA guide for councils is to increase awareness of modern slavery and provide clarity for councils on their role in tackling it.

Protecting Human Rights in the Supply Chain - free E-learning for public procurement practitioners

London Universities Purchasing Consortium (LUPC), in collaboration with our partner consortium APUC and the University of Greenwich, has developed an eLearning suite on Protecting Human Rights in the Supply Chain, developed especially for public procurement practitioners. Users will learn why protecting human rights in the supply chain is important to the public sector, how to assess and prioritise risks, monitoring supply chains, responding to abuses and measuring and reporting effectiveness.

There’s also a module on compiling your annual Slavery and Human Trafficking Statement under the Modern Slavery Act. The suite was written by Dr Olga Martin-Ortega, Reader in Public International Law and leader of the Business, Human Rights and Environment Research Group at the University of Greenwich and LUPC Director, Andy Davies FCIPS. You can access the eLearning suite, for free, by registering.

What is modern slavery?

The term ‘Modern Slavery' captures a whole range of types of exploitation, many of which occur together. These include but are not limited to:

  • sexual exploitation
  • domestic servitude
  • forced labour
  • criminal exploitation
  • other forms of exploitation: organ removal; forced begging; forced benefit fraud; forced marriage and illegal adoption.

The Government has brought together resources related to modern slavery to raise awareness. The Government announced on its plans for further reform in October 2017, with further announcements to follow

The LGA responded  to National Crime Agency figures on modern slavery

Anti-Slavery Commissioner videos

The Anti-Slavery Commissioner has made a range of videos on modern slavery, including for local government and the emergency services. More information is also available in his annual report


The Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner and the National Crime Agency outlined the role that councils and local leaders can play with their partners at the National Children’s and Adults Services Conference in October 2017.

The Human Trafficking Foundation has produced several resources which seek to help local authorities improve their response to human trafficking and modern slavery, in particular the identification and support offered to adult survivors. More information on councils' roles and responsibilities are given below.

Duty to notify

The ‘duty to notify' provision for specified public authorities is set out in the Modern Slavery Act. From 1 November 2015, local authorities have a duty to notify the Home Office of any individual encountered in England and Wales who they believe is a suspected victim of slavery or human trafficking.

A range of Government resources explain the meaning of ‘duty to notify' and explain what you need to do if you think someone has been a victim of modern slavery:

  • how to notify the Government if someone has been a victim of modern slavery
  • the process for victims under 18
  • which forms should be filled in
  • what to do if the victim wants to remain anonymous

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM)

The NRM is the process by which victims of modern slavery, including human trafficking, are recorded. The NRM was extended to all victims of modern slavery - both children and adults - in England and Wales following the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

It was estimated that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2013 but in 2015, only 3,266 potential victims were identified and referred to the NRM. The Duty to Notify is intended to gather better data about modern slavery.

Following on from a review of the NRM, findings of an NRM pilot launched in August 2015 were announced in October 2017. A further package of NRM reforms with a specific focus on improving and extending the support services to victims before, during and after the NRM was also announced.


Raising awareness of and training in roles and responsibilities around modern slavery is crucial. The Government has developed a training resources webpage. It will be updated as and when new information or resources come to light.

Modern Slavery Act 2015

The Act consolidated the current offences relating to trafficking and slavery.

Its key areas includes:

Sharing good practice

We know there are great examples of local authority work on tackling modern slavery and supporting victims. Do let know if you wish to share these.

More information

National agencies

Voluntary Sector Organisations

Other related resources

  • Please see other resources on the LGA website on support for unaccompanied children, who are at risk of being or becoming victims of modern slavery.
  • The LGA works with a range of partners to provide information and resources that are designed to help local councils and their partners fulfil their safeguarding responsibilities to adults in their local areas.
  • A range of resources is available in relation to keeping children safe, including responding to and preventing child sexual exploitation