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Identifying criminal exploitation in retail

Identifying criminal exploitation in retail

Criminal exploitation is a type of Modern Slavery. It refers to the exploitation of a person for the purpose of criminality and where victims are forced to perform a wide range of unlawful acts. This may include acquisitive crime such as shoplifting however there are many ways that criminals are exploiting people.

The following is desgined to help those in retail understand who could be a victim and spot the signs of ciminal exploitation in retail:

  • Offenders target vulnerable people who may be children, homeless, suffering from addiction, or have learning difficulties
  • Offenders arrange and facilitate travel for victims, incurring debt for victims
  • Offenders promise victims employment, accommodation and a ‘better life’
  • Victims are forced to steal and are not given the work they were promised
  • Offenders use violence, surveillance, abuse and debt bondage to control victims

Signs of exploitation

  • Shoplifter hands over stolen goods to another person
  • Shoplifter is dropped off and picked up by others
  • Shoplifter is watched and/or instructed by others
  • Shoplifter is committing crimes over long distances and moving around regularly
  • Shoplifter (when apprehended) appears to be coached in what to say or fearful of engaging in conversation


If you suspect a person is being exploited in this way, call the Police on: 101 (non-emergency) or 999 (emergency)

Make it clear to the call handler that you believe a person is involved in FORCED CRIMINALITY and may be a victim of MODERN SLAVERY

For confidential victim support: Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 

You can also download a poster from the Modern Slavery Police Transformation Unit which could act as a reminder for staff so that they can help identify groups - click on the image below: