The 18th of October marks National Anti-Slavery Day 2019. This annual event was created in 2010, and aims to raise awareness of the continuing need to tackle slavery, human trafficking and exploitation in all its forms. On this day we would like to take the opportunity to shed light over this important subject and to share some of the work taking place in North Wales to tackle these awful crimes.
Many people are shocked when they hear that modern day slavery is the second most profitable crime in the world, second only to drugs. Despite the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833, slavery has not ended. In fact, more people are enslaved today than in any time throughout history. Almost every country is affected by trafficking, whether as a country of origin, transit or destination for victims. Although impossible to know for certain, it is estimated that there are 40 million people enslaved globally, as well as 152 million child labourers. People are even more appalled when they hear these crimes take place much closer than they originally thought. We want to raise awareness that modern slavery and trafficking is absolutely not limited to industrial areas and big cities. Although it is hard to imagine, there were 251 referrals of potential slavery cases in Wales in 2018. Of this number, 125 were children.
Modern slavery and trafficking are hidden practices that are often camouflaged. Victims may often not view themselves as victims and may not always be who you expect. It is important to remember that victims can be men, women or children of all ages and nationalities. The UK is primarily a destination Country for victims of trafficking, and many victims identified originate from the Far East, Africa and Eastern Europe. However, it is also possible for British nationals to be trafficked domestically and enslaved. British victims may have fallen on hard times, making them vulnerable to the illusion of well-paid work.
It is argued how slavery and labour exploitation underpins many aspects of our lives, and people may often find themselves in contact with people who could potentially be victims. Many products made in the UK and shipped around the world are already likely to be linked with exploitation. Slavery has also been found within industries such as farming and horticulture, nail bars, car washes and hotels to name just a few.
To try and tackle modern slavery, we want more people to become aware of what slavery involves, how we can identify it, and what we can do to stop it happening.
Here are some of the signs to look out for – individuals may be:
- Scared, withdrawn and non-engaging, limited English skills
- Unkempt, ill, malnourished with few possessions
- Reluctant to speak to authorities
- Working with unusual arrangements – being e regularly dropped off or collected for work either very early or late at night and little or not pay
Tackling Modern Slavery
2015 saw the implementation of the Modern Slavery Act in the UK, which gives law enforcement powers to tackle modern slavery and enhanced support and protection to victims. In addition to ensuring that perpetrators receive suitably severe punishments, the Act also requires businesses over a certain size to disclose each year what action they have taken to ensure there is no modern slavery in their business or supply chains.
In North Wales, to fulfil obligations under the Act, the regional approach to tackling modern slavery in 2019/20 centres on the 4 ‘P’s:-
PursueInvestigating, disrupting and prosecuting groups engaged in modern slavery. Monitoring and reporting referrals in the area.
PreventAwareness raising, tackling transparency within supply chains, engaging with partners that represent key industries in the region. Preventing people from engaging with modern slavery.
ProtectMaintaining awareness breifings, working with partners in the homeless sector and strengthening safeguardings.
PrepareIncrease understanding and awareness through a designated training module. Developing multi-agency responses and improved victim identifcation and enhancing the support provided.
How to report?
If you suspect an incidence of modern slavery or would like to seek advice, there are a number of ways to do so: