According to the National Crime Agency, human trafficking and modern day slavery in the UK is more prevalent than previously believed. The report has prompted an increase in calls to the modern slavery helpline.
“The number of calls to the modern slavery hotline has doubled in a week after the National Crime Agency’s report on the “shocking” scale of the problem. The helpline, for people to report suspicions of modern slavery, received 150 calls in seven days this week, up from a weekly average of 75. The surge came after the agency said modern slavery and human trafficking were far more prevalent than law enforcement had previously thought. In a recent crackdown, the NCA said it had lifted the lid on the “shocking” scale of the crime, with potentially tens of thousands of victims in the UK.”
Unseen is an anti-slavery charity organization. Justine Currel, their executive director, said the warning had prompted a sharp rise in calls reporting people working at car washes, construction, and nail salons. She explained that often these workers receive low pay and endure difficult living conditions. “[The calls] are still coming in thick and fast, we refer them to the police whenever we can.”
“Some say they got their car washed in the village and the people doing it looked worn down but they will not tell you where it is … we cannot do anything with that information but we leave it on file and if they contact again then we can add to what we know. Quite often there will be no indicator, someone might just have a bit of a feeling, but we cannot refer ‘a feeling’ on to the police. Normally we have to work with the person calling and identify if the concerning factors indicate modern slavery.”
Caroline Young is the deputy director for vulnerabilities at the NCA. She said they were satisfied with the response. “We launched the campaign because we think the public have an awful lot to offer in terms of assisting us and being able to spot … something peculiar and different going on.”
Since Unseen first started its helpline last October, there has been a consistent increase in calls, from 40 a week to nearly 70-75.
“Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International, said the growing call numbers suggested the NCA work was helping to raise awareness, which was a “positive step forward”. However, he noted that a key concern was whether there was “appropriate capacity in policing to deal with required level of investigation needed to get a grip in this issue in the country””