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Modern Slavery Referrals By Councils Soar Ninefold

There has been a ninefold increase over five years of modern slavery referrals made by councils.
22 March 2019

Referrals of potential victims of modern slavery made by councils have soared ninefold in five years, new figures show.

Latest National Crime Agency statistics reveal the number of council referrals of suspected victims of modern slavery to the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) - the UK’s framework for referring and supporting victims - has risen from 153 in 2013 to 1,342 in 2018.

The rate of council referrals has increased by 70 per cent in the last year alone, from 789 in 2017, and 221 per cent in two years, from 418 in 2016.

Government figures estimate there are between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, although this may be an underestimate.


County lines

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents 370 councils and all fire and rescue authorities in England, said the increase in council referrals suggests an increasing awareness of modern slavery and the growing issue of county lines drug trafficking, many cases of which are included in the NRM figures.

The LGA, which is working with the Home Office on reforms to the NRM, is urging the Government to use the Spending Review to provide more funding for councils to help tackle modern slavery and support its victims.

No specific funding is given to councils to support victims of modern slavery, who may have suffered appalling abuse, been forced to live in squalor and, in the case of many adult victims, paid scandalous wages as a result of exploitation by criminal gangs.


Safer and Stronger

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Councils will not tolerate the exploitation of people in their communities and are committed to tackling modern slavery, which can have a devastating impact on vulnerable people working for little or no pay for ruthless profiteers who threaten or use physical violence.

“Modern slavery is a rising threat to our communities. Because of its hidden nature, modern slavery is a major concern that everyone needs to be alert to and report any suspicious behaviour. A simple phone call could make a world of difference to people living miserable lives at the hands of heartless criminals.”

Picture: There has been a ninefold increase over five years of modern slavery referrals made by councils.

Article written by Brian Shillibeer | Published 22 March 2019


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