As lockdown restrictions are lifted, the number of people being exploited, trapped and tricked into modern slavery is expected to rise. Last year, the number of victims in the UK hit a record high, with more than 10,000 potential victims of trafficking, slavery and forced labour identified – men, women and children.
But it’s feared that this is only the tip of the iceberg, and that there may be as many as 136,000 modern slavery victims in the UK, according to a 2018 survey by the Walk Free Foundation.
Cardinal Vincent Nichols, President of the Santa Marta Group, has added his voice to the Crimestoppers’ #SlaveryonYourDoorstep campaign that seeks to get anonymous information from the public to help potential victims of this under-reported crime.
“The pandemic has affected vulnerable people disproportionally,” said Cardinal Nichols. “This has led to more potential victims of human trafficking and exploitation. The Catholic Church’s Santa Marta Group seeks to help victims, and potential victims, of human trafficking by working with law enforcement agencies across the world to combat this evil crime and assist the victims.”
You can back the #SlaveryonYourDoorstep campaign by helping to spot these victims and to tell Crimestoppers about them, 100 per cent anonymously, so that the necessary support can be provided by specialist agencies, and action can be taken against the criminals involved.
We can all help end modern slavery by being aware of what to look, for instance the next time you go to a car wash site or a nail bar.This crime also goes on in agriculture, construction, catering, the care sector, contract cleaning, hotels and hospitality, and in fishing, as well as being widespread within the sex industry.
Signs that someone might be a victim of modern slavery include:
We know that it can feel awkward or a bit embarrassing when you suspect, but are not absolutely certain, that modern slavery is happening. Its hidden nature makes it more difficult to spot. But sometimes, you’ll have a hunch that something is just not right. That’s when you can pass on what you suspect without giving any personal details, thanks to Crimestoppers’ anonymity guarantee.
Your information could help free victims from danger and ensure they receive the support they desperately need from specialist agencies, as well as help bring those behind this heinous crime to justice.
Due to Crimestoppers’ anonymity guarantee, it can’t take information from victims of crime. If you think you or someone you have come across may be a victim of modern slavery and in need of help, you can contact The Salvation Army, who provide specialist support to adult victims of slavery, by calling their free 24-hour confidential helpline on 0800 808 3733.
The UK Modern Slavery Helpline is available 24/7 to offer confidential advice and support for any victim, statutory agency, business, or member of the public regarding modern slavery suspicions or concerns. Trained Helpline Advisers are available to discuss potential signs of modern slavery and options for callers or victims in need. Call free on 08000 121 700.
If you have any information about the mistreatment of workers, or labour providers operating without a licence or a business, you can contact the Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority by phoning 0800 432 0804.
You can find out more about the #SlaveryonYourDoorstep campaign by visiting the Crimestoppers’ website: crimestoppers-uk.org
Picture: Crimestoppers logo on the side of a police car. (Joe Giddens/PA).