Spot the signs and join the fight against modern slavery

People are being urged to take a stand against exploitation by calling out modern slavery.

With reports of individuals in East Sussex being exploited and abused increasing, East Sussex County Council is urging people to look out of the signs and join the fight.

The call was made to coincide with Anti-Slavery Day, which runs each year on October 18, and aims to raise awareness of modern slavery.

What is Modern Slavery?

Modern Slavery can involve a wide range of abuse including forced and compulsory labour, servitude and trafficking of people for various forms of exploitation.

Someone is in slavery if they are:

  • forced to work through mental or physical threat,
  • owned or controlled by an ‘employer’, usually through mental or physical abuse, or the threat of abuse,
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as ‘property’,
  • physically constrained or have restrictions placed on their freedom.

What are the signs of Modern Slavery?

Modern slavery could be happening in your community so it’s important you know the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime.

The signs aren’t always obvious but there are some that you may notice:

  • does the person look scruffy, malnourished or injured?
  • are they acting anxious, afraid or unable to make eye contact?
  • are they doing long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or have the wrong equipment for the job?
  • is where they are living overcrowded, poorly maintained or are the curtains always closed?
  • do they behave like they’re being instructed by someone else, picked up/dropped off at the same time and place every day or don’t have access to money or identification?

To learn more about the signs of modern slavery and how to report concerns visit

Modern Slavery in East Sussex

During 2018, Sussex Police recorded 170 Crimes relating to offences within the Modern Slavery Act, 40 of which related to East Sussex.

This year so far, 45 have been reported in East Sussex and 135 in Sussex as a whole, but national changes to recording rules mean the final tally is likely to be significantly higher.

Tom Hook, East Sussex County Council Assistant Director for Planning, Performance and Engagement, said: “People may not think modern slavery is a problem in East Sussex, but these figures suggest otherwise.

“It’s a common misconception that this issue is happening behind closed doors, with victims hidden away, but in many cases they are working ‘in plain sight’ in our communities in businesses such as hand car washes, nail bars, restaurants and illegal prostitution.

“Many people may not realise they are being used by criminals, making it even more important that we all know how to spot the signs. By taking an active role we can take a stand against organised crime and criminals and protect vulnerable people from falling victim.”

The Safer East Sussex Team is working with Stop the Traffik and Rother Voluntary Action to raise awareness of the different types of exploitation affecting communities across East Sussex and have launched the Communities Against Exploitation Campaign 2019.

Organised criminals use various tactics to manipulate, threaten and exploit by using deceptive and coercive methods. The campaign aims to lift the veil on methods used by criminals by showing what it can look like and how to spot the signs of exploitation.

East Sussex County Council contributes to the Discovery project, a multi-agency partnership which includes district and borough councils and other agencies. Discovery aims to protect people from modern slavery and take action against those responsible for it.

Having launched in December 2017 in Hastings and Rother, the partnership now supports wider operations in East Sussex including Eastbourne, Lewes and Wealden. The aim of Discovery is to share information and intelligence to safeguard potential victims and make it difficult for offenders to operate in East Sussex.

For more information

Further information about safeguarding, including modern slavery, can be found and further advice is available by calling the modern slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700.