Anybody who thinks acts of slavery are now confined to the pages of history books would be very wrong.
Slavery is a modern day problem that doesn’t just take place in far off places; it’s a growing issue in this country. So much so a new Modern Slavery Bill is slowly making its way through the Houses of Parliament.
Once enacted, the post of Anti-Slavery Commissioner will be created, whose main role will be to lead the UK’s fight against slavery.
The Commissioner will co-ordinate the activities of the police, border officials, HMIC, health workers and others to assist in the prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of modern slavery offences. They will be required to act in the interest of victims or potential victims and initially scope the true extent of the problem in the UK. Modern Slavery is what I would describe as a hidden crime because it can easily be overlooked and is often only discovered as a byproduct of another, entirely unrelated criminal investigation.
There have been recent cases discovered within sections of the travelling community, where alcoholic down and out men have allegedly been picked up off the street, forced to live in sheds and do unpaid labour for many years and some of these cases are progressing through the courts. However, having spoken to investigators currently focusing on this issue, perhaps unsurprisingly, the main victims are immigrants who have been trafficked to the UK.
There are quite horrific stories being uncovered about young women being conned into travelling to this country by being promised exciting work opportunities.
When they initially arrive, they are provided with free food and accommodation, while they apply for jobs that either don’t exist or they are not qualified for.
After several weeks or months, those who have been providing them with free board then request payment for their assistance. As they have no means to pay, pressure is placed on them to do work in lieu of payment and this leads to their sexual exploitation.
Shortly, advertising campaigns will be conducted to raise awareness and encourage members of the public to contact the authorities should they suspect a person is being subjected to unlawful servitude.
Acts of slavery will be taking place in this area and it is important people consider reporting any suspicious activity they see.