Modern Slavery in the Hospitality Trade

'Do Disturb' is North Wales Polices’ campaign that aims to raise awareness of modern slavery in the hospitality trade by visiting hotels and guest houses with information about how to recognise the signs. 

Many hotels and guest houses can potentially become hosts of modern slavery or be used by traffickers to accomplish their business. This is because of the level of anonymity available when staying in a hotel. However, hotel employees are often in the best position to observe potential indictors of modern slavery offences, especially since their duties give them access to most areas of the properties.

Traffickers utilise all available resources to carry out their crimes, including hotels. Traffickers take advantage of the privacy offered by hotels, they are able to operate at a low risk because hotel staff and community are not aware of the signs of human trafficking. North Wales Police aim to change this by making hotel staff aware of the indicators of modern slavery and asking them to question whether it is possible for trafficking to occur in their work places unnoticed. There are a number of common practices that allow people to go between accommodations and travel untraced because of the operational processes of hotels.


If you work in a hotel, consider whether:

  • Identification of every guest staying in the property is checked, especially children accompanying adults.
  • All guests have registered themselves as they check in to the property, especially children accompanying adults.
  • The privacy and anonymity of guests allows protection for potential traffickers.
  • The unrestricted use of ‘do not disturb’ signs means that guests could be invisible to staff members for long periods of time.
  • Accepting payments in cash could help make a trafficker and their victims harder to trace.
  • There are clear guidelines for reporting suspicious incidents.

Hotels are routinely used for sex trafficking where victims are compelled to provide commercial sex to paying customers. Victims may be forced to stay at a hotel where customers come to them (in-call), or they are required to go to rooms rented out by the customers (out- call). Moreover, sex trafficking victims often stay in hotels with their traffickers while moving to different locations.


Some of the signs and indicators of a victim of modern slavery:

  • Signs of physical abuse, restraint or confinement.
  • Be subject to verbal threats and treated in a demeaning or aggressive manner.
  • Signs of malnourishment, sleep deprivation or untreated injuries.
  • Restricted, mediated, or controlled communication. Appears to be constantly monitored.
  • Avoidance of interaction with others.
  • Have no control over money or identification documents.
  • Be dressed inappropriately for their age or have lower quality clothing than those they are accompanied by.
  • Have few or no possessions carried in small or plastic carrier bags.
  • Appear to be with a significantly older ‘boyfriend’ or a group of older males.
  • Have no knowledge of current or past whereabouts.
  • Show signs of fear, anxiety, submission or nervousness.
  • Be within a group of girls travelling with older male or female.


As well as trafficking and sexual exploitation, labour exploitation can occur in hotels too. This means that staff working in a hotel or guest house could be victims of modern slavery, having been possibly recruited or subcontracted via dishonest agencies. Typically, an example of how this happens is that a person coming from a situation of poverty and lack of opportunity is offered a seemingly good job in the UK. Often, the victim has to take out a loan from an agent to pay for the recruitment fees and the journey. Once the person arrives in the UK, the job and living conditions are completely different but they cannot leave because their passport is taken away and they are told they need to pay off the debt before they leave.

Possible signs that a person is a victim of modern slavery:

  • If they mention that work conditions or wages are different to what was advertised or promised.
  • If their pay is turned over to a third party, or if they are unpaid, paid very little, or only paid in tips.
  • They might mention a large or growing debt to someone.
  • Always wear the same clothes that are possibly unsuitable for the job they are doing.
  • Constantly monitored and have no freedom, they could be picked up and dropped off instead of walking anywhere on foot.
  • Show signs of malnourishment, poor hygiene, or fatigue.

 Modern day slavery is sometimes referred to as a ‘hidden crime’ but often people are exploited in plain sight. Victims come from a variety of backgrounds – they may be UK citizens, EU migrants or from outside of the EU. Modern slavery is not limited to cities or industrial areas. These crimes happen to men, women and children and could be taking place on any street in the UK. Trafficking does not only mean moving someone from one country to another against their will, it can be as basic as making a car journey to a local hotel.

Pdficon Small See the signs- Break the chains

‘If you see it, report it’