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Call for better support as stats show rise in modern slavery referrals post-lockdown

Human Trafficking
6 August 2021
Car wash modern slavery 6

More, tailored support is needed for confirmed victims of modern slavery, campaigners say, following the release of new figures showing a sharp rise in referrals as lockdown ended.

Figures released by the Home Office, show that 3,140 potential victims of modern slavery were referred to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in the second quarter of 2021 – the second highest level recorded. Almost half of those referred (1,357) were children.

During the national lockdowns period, referrals dropped significantly, as organisations involved in the referrals process diverted resources towards Covid-19. The resumption of face-to-face engagement has led to more potential victims of modern slavery being picked up by the system.

Responding to the news, Lauren Agnew, Human Trafficking Officer for the charity CARE, which has worked closely with politicians on measures to curb human trafficking and modern slavery, said decision-makers must step up efforts to identify victims and ensure they receive ongoing support:

“Victims of trafficking are often tricked into coming to the UK by false promises or because of threats against them or their family. People are trafficked into prostitution, pornography, agricultural and building labour, manufacturing, domestic servitude, forced begging, benefit fraud, petty criminality and organ removal. They are forced to work for little or no pay; they may have limited freedom and poor living conditions. Many experience physical or emotional abuse.

“The return to usual levels of referrals after the lockdown period helps to illustrate the scope of modern slavery in the UK. But the true scale of the problem is still not properly quantified. These crimes largely go unseen and undetected. We must continue to invest in awareness-raising and training of key stakeholders to ensure that more victims are identified in the years ahead, and ensure that societal events such as pandemics do not deter efforts to help those at risk.

“When someone escapes from slavery, they need somewhere safe to stay, medical treatment, mental health support, legal advice, education and support to rebuild their life. Unlike victims of modern slavery in Northern Ireland and Scotland, the law in England and Wales does not currently give victims a statutory right to support. This has left many victims of modern slavery homeless, destitute and at risk of being re-trafficked.

“We need to ensure victims can receive the support they need to begin to rebuild their lives following their escape from modern slavery and place them firmly on a stable pathway to recovery. This must include support for confirmed victims after they exit the referral process. We call on MPs to ensure that victims receive greater assistance and support in accessing safe accommodation, welfare benefits, healthcare, counselling, and work.”
Lauren Agnew Human Trafficking Officer, CARE


Notes for Editors:

For interview requests or more information please contact Jamie Gillies: // 07384467819

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