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As an Inspector, how can I help tackle slavery?

As an Inspector, how can I help tackle slavery?

Modern Slavery can exist in all parts of society.

People who have daily contact with the public and businesses are best placed to identify labour exploitation. This can include inspections of business as part of regulatory or licensing regime.    

The role of the Inspector

Inspectors are engaged in a number of roles. These range across a number of areas of responsibility such as police, health and safety, care and social services and often involve visiting business premises, private accommodation and community premises.

They are uniquely placed to interact with those who may be exploited, whether in the provision of work, services, accommodation or transport.

All Inspectors should be aware of the signs and symptoms of slavery (External link) and the various types of exploitation. They should also know the policy and process to be followed and how to report any concerns. Many Inspectors will also be first responders for the purpose of the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) – the Government’s formal process for dealing with potential trafficking victims.

Inspectors and the NRM

Any Inspector working for a first responder organisation has the responsibility to safeguard and potential victim of trafficking. This will include ensuring that the potential victim is given the opportunity to enter the NRM and that he/she is offered appropriate support. All Inspectors should ensure that they have the latest information with regard to the NRM process and know who is best placed to offer assistance to them.  

If the Inspector is not working within an organisation that is designated as a first responder they should be aware of who they should contact.

Engagement with potential victims of Modern Slavery

Victims of slavery can be exploited for their labour. Workers are often moved between different types of employment. Labour exploitation can take many forms and can be closely linked to the provision of work in the first instance, along with the provision of accommodation and transport. Accommodation can be closely linked to exploitation by those seeking to exploit the vulnerable. Accommodation can often be overcrowded and of poor quality.  

Inspectors will see victims in a variety of circumstances and it might occur as part of regular duties. Inspectors should consider the signs and symptoms of labour exploitation during visits to both business and residential premises.

If possible, potential victims should be encouraged to discuss the circumstances of their recruitment and employment. It is important to understand that engagement and immediate discussion might increase the risk to the victim or inspector. Each circumstance should be judged on its merits.        

Interviews with workers

Interviews can be conducted formally or informally.  The victim may therefore not wish to be interviewed at the time of the first intervention, for a number of reasons including:

  • victims of modern slavery do not see themselves as victims
  • victims may be coerced or live in fear of their exploiters and/or someone seen to be in a position of authority.

They should be provided with the Inspector’s details to make contact in the future. When any contact is made provisions should be made to conduct an interview in a safe environment.

Types of business affected

There is not a definitive list of business where labour exploitation might be found, it could potentially happen anywhere in any industry. However industries where labour exploitation is more likely include:

  • construction
  • hospitality and catering
  • agriculture
  • food processing and packaging
  • restaurants and fast food outlets
  • cleaning companies
  • recycling
  • car washes
  • logistics.

In addition nail bars, massage parlours and escort services are cited as being at risk.

During visits to these types of premises Inspectors should be more aware of signs and symptoms of labour exploitation. This can include identifying whether any person is forced to live within the same premises in which they work or whether there are indications that this happens. Any indication that the movement of a person is impaired should be explored. This can include being restrained in some way or an overt influence preventing the victim changing their job or accommodation.

Interviews with business proprietors

This presents the opportunity to establish how workers are recruited (to include whether third party agents or intermediaries are used) and what checks are put into place to prevent exploitation. If agencies are used, a business proprietor should be advised of the risks presented by modern day slavery and the checks that can be put into place. Signposting to advice should also be given.

It can also be relevant to enquire what checks are put in place by the businesses supplying any goods and services to the persons being inspected. This will encourage businesses within all parts of the supply chain to consider these issues.

Publicity and awareness

Ideally businesses should support awareness raising campaigns to make staff aware of slavery and where to seek help. Posters should be displayed in prominent areas. These may include staff entrances, canteens, locker rooms and toilets. Inspectors can check whether these are in place. If not the proprietor, then the owner or landlord should be signposted where to find the information available and where it can be displayed.

Workers may be reluctant to raise matters directly with you. By making them aware of the numbers they can call, or organisations who can help, it may encourage reporting.

Gangmasters Licencing Authority have some promotional material  that can be downloaded (External link).

Who to contact

If you have any concerns you can speak to:

  • The Gangmasters Licencing Authority (External link)
  • Police – 999 in an emergency or 101 in a non emergency situation.
  • The Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

Further Information

Home Office and Gangmasters Licencing Authority have produced further information on labour exploitation (External link).

Policies & Guidance

Find relevant guidance and information on the VAWDASV Act.

Find out more


About Live Fear Free

Live Fear Free is a Welsh Government website, providing information and advice for those suffering with violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

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