THE NATIONAL Crime Agency (NCA) has released figures which show that the incidence of modern slavery and human trafficking (MSHT) in the UK is on the up. NCA figures how that there are currently over 300 live policing operations falling in this category of work.
Over a dozen of these MSHT operations are being conducted by the NCA against organised criminals. Recent cases conducted by the NCA have included Operation Aidant – a focussed campaign against the exploitation of people as cheap labour or victims of sexual exploitation which led to 111 arrests and the identification of some 130 victims.
Will Kerr, the NCA’s Director of Vulnerabilities, said, “Modern slavery has rightly been made a priority across law enforcement, but it is a hidden crime so the onus is on us to seek it out… The growing body of evidence we are collecting points to the scale being far larger than anyone had previously thought. The intelligence we are gaining is showing that there are likely to be far more victims out there, and the numbers of victims in the UK has been underestimated.”
Accordingly, the NCA is today starting a six month campaign to explain how the public can spot signs that modern slavery may be taking place. This includes offences of human trafficking, slavery and forced or compulsory labour, including labour of a sexual or criminal nature.
The NCA’s Will Kerr explained, “This is a crime which affects all types of communities across every part of the United Kingdom. It is difficult to spot because often victims don’t even know they are being exploited. Nevertheless we need those communities to be our eyes and ears.
“There will be people living and working where victims come into contact with everyone else’s so-called normal lives. They may see something they feel is not quite right. That might be someone seeming afraid, vulnerable or being controlled, moved around or forced to work against their will. If they do, we need the public to speak to us. Anyone with suspicions can call their local police force on 101 or the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.”
•Watch the NCA video: