Quick Exit

Exploitation of Adults

There are many ways in which vulnerable adults can be exploited. For example:

Human trafficking

This is where people are transported to different areas of the country or world for the purpose of exploitation. 

If you are concerned that someone you know is involved in Human Trafficking, call the police:

  • 999 if it’s an emergency
  • 101 if it’s not urgent

 You can look at The Citizens’ Advice website for more information on Human Trafficking, including

how to spot it and where else you can go for support.

Criminal Exploitation e.g forced involvement in gangs

Criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults is a geographically widespread form of harm that is a typical feature of county lines activity. It is a harm which is relatively little known about or recognised by those best placed to spot its potential victims.

County lines is a term used to describe gangs and organised criminal networks involved in exporting illegal drugs into one or more importing areas within the UK, using dedicated mobile phone lines or other form of “deal line”. They are likely to exploit children and vulnerable adults to move and store the drugs and money and they will often use coercion, intimidation, violence (including sexual violence) and weapons. County lines activity and the associated violence, drug dealing and exploitation has a devastating impact on young people, vulnerable adults and local communities. Guidance for frontline professionals on dealing with county lines.

Sexual Exploitation 

This is where people are trafficked for their involvement in the sex trade, including brothels, phone sex lines or chat rooms, pornography, lap-dancing clubs or escort agencies. There are an estimated 4.5 million victims of sex trafficking worldwide, with the vast majority of these being female but men can be victims too.

Sexual exploitation can happen in many ways:

  • Rape
  • Sexual assault
  • Being tricked, manipulated or forced into carrying out a sex act
  • Being trafficking around the country or world for the purposes of sexual exploitation
  • Being forced to take part in pornography

Financial Exploitation

  • Theft of money or possessions
  • Fraud, scamming
  • Preventing a person from accessing their own money, benefits or assets
  • Employees taking a loan from a person using the service
  • Undue pressure, duress, threat or undue influence put on the person in connection with loans, wills, property, inheritance or financial transactions
  • Arranging less care than is needed to save money to maximise inheritance
  • Denying assistance to manage/monitor financial affairs
  • Denying assistance to access benefits
  • Misuse of personal allowance in a care home
  • Misuse of benefits or direct payments  in a family home
  • Someone moving into a person’s home and living rent free without agreement or under duress
  • False representation, using another person's bank account, cards or documents
  • Exploitation of a person’s money or assets, e.g. unauthorised use of a car
  • Misuse of a power of attorney, deputy, appointeeship or other legal authority
  • Rogue trading – e.g. unnecessary or overpriced property repairs and failure to carry out agreed repairs or poor workmanship

Modern Slavery 

This is where people are forced into carrying out work against their will for no or little pay

See the National Crime Agency’s website for a short film on how to spot the signs of modern slavery

The government’s website explains more about the national response to tackling modern slavery and human trafficking, and how you can help someone who you think might be involved in it, through the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), “a framework for identifying and referring potential victims of modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support”.

Domestic servitude is a form of modern slavery, where people are forced to work in other people’s homes with little or no pay. As such, it is often very difficult to detect due to the private nature of the place where the exploitation takes place. The person being exploited is often a ‘live-in’ help and therefore expected to always be on call. Examples of the type of work someone may be made to do include:

  • Looking after children
  • Cleaning
  • Repairs and maintenance
  • Cooking

GOV.UK has more information on identifying and reporting modern slavery

Further Resources and Guidance

For further information about all forms of exploitation, see the Resource Hub