New report shows record number of slavery victims referred in UK
The National Crime Agency published a report today presenting a summary of the number of potential victims of modern slavery and human trafficking that were referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) in 2017.
The report highlights that over 5,000 potential victims were referred to the UK authorities in 2017, a 35% increase on 2016.
The potential victims were from 116 different countries with Albania, UK and Vietnam remaining the most common.
The number of children thought to be victims has increased by 66%. This is in part due to London based gangs using children to run drugs to other areas, known as ‘County Lines’.
Bishop Patrick Lynch responded to the statistics:
The release of the National Crime Agency statistics on modern day slavery today make for shocking, but not surprising reading.
The increase, particularly around the number of young people being exploited by criminal gangs shows that every day in and around the UK innocent men, women and children are being sold for profit and forced to undertake activities against their will.
Whilst it is alarming that the numbers of referrals especially of children has risen it is important to remember the reality that many more people whose cases are not brought to light or to the appropriate authorities are, in fact, caught in slavery. One of our tasks as the Church is to build trust with those communities that are vulnerable whether from overseas or the UK so that more reporting of cases takes place.
Pope Francis has called for increased efforts and greater commitment in the fight against human trafficking. The Santa Marta Group is an alliance of police chiefs and bishops from around the world, who work together with civil society in the fight against human trafficking and modern-day slavery.
Catholic communities in cities, towns and villages across the country have long been the ‘eyes and ears’ of the local community, alerting local police and the modern slavery helpline to the heinous and often hidden crime of human trafficking.
Training has been taking place in parish halls, schools, hospitals to alert people to the signs and symptoms of modern day slavery.
Safe houses run by religious sisters, Church partners and charities continue to provide pastoral care for victims and survivors of human trafficking across the UK.
Universal commitment is needed to put an end to this vile trade.