Sexual exploitation is a highly common form of modern slavery, affecting both British and foreign nationals. Victims may be forced into prostitution, used for videos and photographs, or made to give sexual performances. 

Many victims are tricked into this form of slavery with promises of a better life in the UK. They often have their passports confiscated by their traffickers on arrival, and are threatened or forced into sex work. Their abusers keep all of their earnings and use violence, threats and intimidation to control them.

Victims are frequently moved between locations and can be found in a wide range of places, such as massage parlours, strip clubs, saunas and bars, as well as on the street. 

There are a number of signs we can look out for in order to spot sexual exploitation in our communities:

  • Appearance: Does the person appear frightened, isolated or in physical pain? They may be extremely scared of authority figures such as the police. They may also appear to be underage.
  • Location: Buildings used as brothels often have a high level of security, such as bars on the windows. You may also notice that the curtains will be drawn all day, regardless of the time.
  • Difficulties with communication: Do they have a limited ability to speak and understand English? Perhaps their English is limited to sexual words. 
  • Lack of belongings: Does the person appear to have very few personal belongings? Are they missing important personal documents, such as a passport?

If you suspect that you have spotted signs of sexual slavery and would like to report your concerns, please contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 012 1700.