Widening the fight against modern slavery

13 March 2018

The time has come to broaden the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking. That was the key message from an event to mark the NCA’s ‘Invisible People’ photographic exhibition at London’s Westminster Abbey.

Home Office minister Victoria Atkins MP used her speech at the event to call for support from the public and private sectors.

“We need increased support from financial institutions helping us identify and disrupt illicit financial flows which are used to fund and launder the proceeds of modern slavery,” she said.

“Local authorities and services must also play their part by identifying and safeguarding potential victims at an early stage, so they are resilient to the approaches of those who want to exploit them. They should pass information and intelligence to local policing to feed into the national picture of threat.”

In 2017, as part of a number of weeks of action on modern slavery, UK law enforcement arrested more than 320 suspected offenders and identified more than 560 potential victims.

But the public response has also been encouraging, with a 100 percent increase in the number of calls to the Modern Slavery Helpline.

Matt Horne, Deputy Director General of the National Crime Agency, told the event that the threat is evolving into online spaces:

“There are now over six hundred active operations targeting those involved in modern slavery and human trafficking. But there is more to do,” he said.

“Criminal networks are using the internet. Adult services websites are a key enabler of exploitation, and we’re working with the tech companies, but also we need make people aware the services advertised on them are often exploiting victims.”

The Invisible People exhibition, which aims to raise awareness of the signs of modern slavery and encourage the public to report them, has now toured the UK, visiting locations such as Manchester, Cardiff, Belfast and Bristol.

And it drew praise from Mark Burns-Williamson, West Yorkshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner:

“This innovative exhibition has been around various locations in the UK. It will hopefully have had an impact over the past 3 months or so, and really could help to improve the chances of identifying and supporting people trapped in similar situations and assist in bringing those responsible to justice,” he said.

“It’s important that we collectively continue to raise awareness of human trafficking and I commend the NCA and the ‘Unseen’ Modern Slavery helpline in bringing this exhibition together.”

Anyone with suspicions about modern slavery can call their local police force on 101 or the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.

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