Modern slavery

Modern slavery

17 May 2019


Modern slavery is a global problem affecting an estimated 40.3 million people around the world, including thousands in the UK.

Men, women and children of all ages and backgrounds are victims of human trafficking, forced labour, domestic servitude or debt bondage. Victims are controlled by force, threats, coercion, abduction, fraud and deception.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) is the foremost investigative agency for modern slavery and labour exploitation in the UK. Its role is to work in partnership with organisations to protect vulnerable and exploited workers.

In April 2017, the authority was granted new police-style powers to investigate the exploitation of around 10 million workers across all aspects of the UK labour market.

The GLAA investigates any circumstances where there is a risk of worker exploitation by gathering intelligence and working with other law enforcement agencies to target, dismantle and disrupt serious and organised crime.

Since acquiring its new powers, the authority has made 166 arrests and identified more than 3,700 workers suffering some form of abuse. Almost 120 potential victims have been accepted into the government’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM).

The organisation also operates a licensing scheme regulating businesses who supply workers to agriculture, horticulture, shellfish gathering, and food processing and packaging. Its licensing standards cover health and safety, pay, transport and accommodation. It also checks that tax, National Insurance and VAT regulations are met.


Case studies

In October 2018, a man and woman convicted of supplying illegal workers to food factories in Leicester were served with the country’s first ever use of a Labour Market Enforcement Order (LMEO), described as an ASBO for rogue employers.

Sabina Gaina and Badar Hayat made a fortune from the practice by offering workers from Romania and Moldova the prospect of a better life. However, they ended up being packed four to a room in rented houses and exploited.

Gaina and Hayat were also handed suspended sentences and will go to prison if they breach the LMEO.

The Responsible Car Wash Scheme (RCWS) is a scheme developed by the Downstream Fuel Association in association with the GLAA and five major supermarkets, targeting modern slavery and lack of compliance within the hand car wash industry.

The aim of the pilot project is to ensure that consumers have a clear choice between using a fully compliant operator which is accredited, and one which may not be as compliant.

Thirty hand car washes on supermarket sites in the Midlands were inspected and audited as part of the pilot in February 2019, to check that they are complying with regulations and looking after their workers.


· Sign up to the Construction or Textiles Protocol and work with the GLAA to fight exploitation if you are a business in this sector.
· Learn how to spot the signs of exploitation within supply chains by reading this guide
· Report your concerns to the GLAA’s intelligence team on 0800 432 0804.

Additional resources
2018 Annual Report on Modern Slavery