The UK is both a country of destination, with thousands of victims arriving from other countries only to be exploited by criminals; and a source country with increasing numbers of British victims identified. Slavery takes many different forms and affects adults and children, males and females.
Those who are enslaved are exploited for the financial gain of their captors. The vulnerable are made to work in cruel conditions for long hours without pay. Examples include women and girls forced into prostitution for profit, young boys made to commit criminal acts against their will and men kept in slave-like conditions in factories.
Last year there was a total of 6,993 recorded victims of modern slavery in the UK, a 36% increase on the year before. Victims came from 130 different countries, with the top 3 being the UK, Albania and Vietnam (find out more on the Resources page).
The most common exploitation type recorded for potential victims exploited as adults and children was labour exploitation, a category which also includes criminal exploitation.
Slave masters and human traffickers in the UK will coerce and control their victims, keeping them in slavery for weeks, months or years at a time. Individuals are often deceived into working in slave-like conditions, and then threatened in order to keep them there. Victims are moved from abuser to abuser and they are usually too afraid of their captors to risk escape, making slavery a hidden, complex crime.
For those victims who do escape or are rescued the UK has an established system of support, namely, the National Referral Mechanism (NRM). This was introduced in 2009. The NRM provides accommodation and other vital services for victims for a minimum of 45 days. The NRM exists outside statute, and many organisations also support victims of modern slavery before, during and after exiting the NRM.
Although modern slavery can involve the movement of people across an international border, it is also possible to be a victim within one’s own country; for example, last year the UK was in the top 3 countries of origin for all potential victims in the UK.
"For victims and survivors of modern slavery in the UK, these are unsettling and frightening times." Read Dame Sara’s blog on the impact of #Coronavirus on the essential support needed for victims of #modernslavery - https://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/news-insights/iasc-blog-vulnerable-victims-of-modern-slavery-must-remain-our-priority-at-this-difficult-time/ …
The figures on growing delays have prompted @UKAntiSlavery Commissioner to call for 'radical reform' in the system 'I am deeply concerned that the system is not keeping pace with demand. We need radical reform of the NRM so we can equip victims to become survivors,' she told me
A record 10,627 suspected slaves were referred to the British government for help in 2019, up by 52% in a year, amid fears coronavirus will worsen abuse | Latest on #modernslavery #humantrafficking at @TRF_Stories https://tmsnrt.rs/343JEx3
BREAKING: Record high 10,000 suspected modern slavery victims in UK, figures show The number of people referred to the NRM surged 52% last year. Worryingly, 8 in 10 (8,429) still awaiting a conclusive grounds decision – revealing huge and growing backlog https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/modern-slavery-uk-victims-year-figure-trafficking-home-office-a9441711.html …
Dame Sara welcomes this @VictimsComm Review on #domesticabuse and child criminal exploitation which "emphasises the need to place safeguarding at the heart of our response to child exploitation" https://www.antislaverycommissioner.co.uk/news-insights/dame-sara-welcomes-victims-commissioner-review-on-children-s-experience-of-domestic-abuse-and-criminality/ … https://twitter.com/VictimsComm/status/1245279778963369984 …