Eradicating Exploitation while Encouraging Ethical

Eradicating Exploitation while Encouraging Ethical Beauty

BABTAC has been campaigning against Modern Slavery for over a decade and even though it hasn’t made headlines of late sadly this doesn’t mean this inhumane crime has gone away. In 2016 Operation Magnify - a cross-government drive to tackle illegal workers by targeting specific ‘risk’ industries, which includes the beauty industry, ended up in 280 nail bars being raided and 97 arrests. Subsequent to that, in the 2019 Essex Lorry Tragedy in which 39 people died, many were identified as having been assigned to work in Nail Bars.

BABTAC has recently been involved in a number of online and round table discussions with The Modern Slavery Child Exploitation Taskforce of the Metropolitan Police to see how we can continue to eradicate this exploitation of vulnerable people and lobbying for further regulation that would help eradicate this barbaric exploitation.

BABTAC CEO & Chair, Lesley Blair MBE  

"As a not for profit organisation, BABTAC was set up to support and promote responsible therapists and businesses in our sector, while helping to protect the general public. We therefore voluntarily elected to self-regulate our own members by setting strict pre-requisites in order to qualify for insurance. We believe the only way to ensure real change is to continue on our quest for mandatory regulation and registration of all beauty businesses, while concurrently educating consumers on the importance of seeking out a legitimate, professional, verified business”

While educating consumers on the warning signs they need to look out for is a large part of this campaign, we also encourage all our members to initiate the conversations with their own clients. The current economic crisis is already having a serious effect on our industry and sadly this can result in consumers looking for the cheapest options available. Not only is this detrimental to your own business but in turn can encourage further exploitation of vulnerable and desperate people.

Communicate the warning signs to your clients

The Modern Slavery Child Exploitation Taskforce of the Metropolitan Police have provided a brief guide on spotting the signs of bad practise, criminality and unethical behaviour.

Remember this is not exclusive to consumers as you may well have concerns of other businesses in your area or heard stories from clients.

Some of the most common sign include:

  • Staff conducting treatments without engaging with you and avoiding eye contact.
  • A ‘supervisor’ being overly attentive to work being carried out and the activities of their staff.
  • One member of staff insisting on speaking on behalf of others, or multiple staff looking for the approval of another party before speaking.
  • Signs of bullying or control by management on their employees.
  • No licenses or certificates of training on display within the location.
  • Bedding, or signs of people living on site visible within the location.
  • No appointments accepted and cash only payments.
  • Single use items being used on multiple customers, posing a health risk.
  • Massage staff offering sexual services in addition to their normal work.
  • Employees having no access to mobile phones, identification etc.

One or two of these signs on their own could be apparent for a number of reasons, and not necessarily involve exploitation. However, if you encounter a number of these indicators in one instance then it may well be worth reporting your concerns to someone, which can be done anonymously and very quickly.

How to Report Your Concerns

Hopefully you will never be in a position where you feel you have concerns for the people working in a salon/nail bar but if you do – this is what you can do about it.

If you have any concerns for someone’s immediate safety or feel someone is at risk of harm call 999 and report it to the police, to make sure that nobody comes to harm. You can also, in non-emergency cases call 101 or visit your local police services’ website.

In a case where you feel it is not appropriate to report your concerns to the police directly, you may feel calling police might make the situation worse or you may just not be quite sure what you’re unsure about but feel you should let someone know you’re not happy with what you’ve seen.

If this is the case, then there are a number of excellent different independent charities and agencies that you can raise your concerns with (anonymously if you prefer), including the below:


Telephone: 0800 555 111

Unseen / Modern Slavery Helpline

Telephone: 08000 121 700

Health & Safety Executive

Telephone: 0300 003 1647

What to Report

Information that could help both police and these organisations identify and protect potential victims of modern slavery or exploitation include:

  • Any names, DOB and addresses of anyone involved.
  • Times, dates and locations of the source of concern.
  • Any booking/appointment details or any form I.D. and travel documents to verify details.
  • Descriptions in as much detail as possible – of potential victims or suspects. Age, height, build, clothing, jewellery, scars, accent can all be helpful.
  • Is there any CCTV at the venue? If not is there any CCTV in nearby locations – alternative options such as Ring doorbell / dashcam etc may also be helpful.

No matter how small the detail, or how vague it may seem when you report it, don’t be frightened of including it, as it could help to make a difference to a vulnerable person’s life. But, whatever you do, don’t ever put your own or anybody else’s safety at risk. We are just trying to give you the knowledge to be able to confidently and if you prefer confidentially report any concerns you may have of any beauty salon or its staff that may be at risk of exploitation or modern day slavery in some form.

The vast majority of professionals in our industry are just that, dedicated and committed professionals, such as you our members - who have a deep passion and care for the work they do and the people they work with. We want to make sure that the small minority that put profit before people’s safety and subject their staff and customers to poor conditions and treatment are reported and closed down.