Modern Slavery is an international crime, affecting an estimated 29.8 million slaves around the world. It is a global problem that transcends age, gender and ethnicities, including here in the UK and it’s important that we bring this hidden crime into the open.
It can include victims that have been brought from overseas, and vulnerable people in the UK, being forced to illegally work against their will in many different sectors, including brothels, cannabis farms, nail bars and agriculture
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states that
“No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.”
Victims found in the UK come from many different countries, including Romania, Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and the UK itself.
Poverty, limited opportunities at home, lack of education, unstable social and political conditions, economic imbalances and war are some of the key drivers that contribute to trafficking of victims. What’s more, victims can often face more than one type of abuse and slavery, for example if they are sold to another trafficker and then forced into another form of exploitation.
Child Trafficking – young people are moved either internationally or domestically so they can be exploited.
Forced Labour/Debt Bondage – victims are forced to work to pay off their debts that realistically they never will be able to due to low wages and increase of debt. In some cases the debt is passed down to the victims children.
Sexual Exploitation – victims forced to perform non - consensual or abusive sexual acts against their will, such as prostitution, escort work and pornography.
Criminal Exploitation – the victim is often controlled and maltreated; victims are forced into crimes such as cannabis cultivation or pick pocketing against their will.
Domestic Servitude – victims are forced to carry out housework and domestic chores in private households with little or no pay, restricted movement, very little free time and minimal privacy often sleeping where they work.
HOW TO SPOT THE SIGNS OF MODERN SLAVERY
There is no typical victim of slavery – victims can be men, women and children of all ages and cut across the population. Signs of slavery are often hidden but the following is a list of some common signs which you can be aware of:
Physical Appearance – victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn.
Isolation – victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own and seem under control.
Poor Living Conditions – victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation.
Few or No Personal effects – victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out.
Restricted Freedom of Movement – victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, e.g. passports.
Reluctant to Seek Help – victims may avoid eye contact; appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers for many reasons such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, violence to them or their family.
HOW TO REPORT SUSPECTED SLAVERY
If you suspect slavery is happening do not attempt to let the victim know that you are going to report it or confront the traffickers. You need to ensure their safety and yours. You can report your concern it in a number of ways:
- SLHD Safeguarding Single Point of Contact – 01302 736532
- SYP – If it’s an emergency always call 999. For non-emergencies, call 101.
- Modern Slavery Helpline – 0800 0121 700
For more information on Modern Slavery please contact the Safeguarding Team on: 01302 736381.