UK: Reports of modern slavery and trafficking risen 36% in one year

Reports to police of potential modern slavery and trafficking victims have risen 36% in the past year, according to the UK National Crime Agency. In 2018, 6993 potential victims were reported to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), a system designed to identify and support victims and aid in prosecuting perpetrators.

In order to be entered into the NRM, a victim must sign a form, and then Home Office and UK Human Trafficking Centre personnel decide whether to classify the individual as a victim of modern slavery within 45 days. The current system has been criticised by the Human Trafficking foundation, who claim that long term support is not being provided, and victims are falling through the cracks.

“We've heard from police officers who have referred people into the NRM repeatedly because each time they leave the NRM they're becoming destitute, being re-trafficked, and the police are identifying them again”, highlighted Tamara Barnett of the Human Trafficking Foundation in an interview with BBC.

Beyond the NRM, reports of potential trafficking and modern slavery cases to local councils have increased, with council referrals growing from 131 in 2013 to 1,306 in 2018, with a 66% increase in 2018 alone. This dramatic increase is putting financial pressure on councils who are struggling to manage referrals with current budgets.

The increase in referrals is a positive sign that UK citizens are becoming more aware and engaged in the fight to end modern slavery and trafficking, but many are calling for changes to current systems in order to ensure victims are given long term support.

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Sonja DuncanComment