Friday links: Slavery in every town in the UK, convictions in Newcastle, and the UK slave economy

Every Friday we share the latest news on modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK. Keep up to date by following us on twitter (@theclewer), where we will tweet out the article each week, or sign up to our monthly newsletter

Modern slavery and trafficking 'in every UK town and city'

The National Crime Agency announced on Thursday that they believe modern slavery to be 'prevalent', with cases affecting every major city in the UK. You can read our response on Facebook here

The agency estimated that there were tens of thousands of victims. It said previous estimates of 10,000-13,000 victims in the UK were found to be the "tip of the iceberg". "The more we look, the more we find," the NCA's vulnerabilities director Will Kerr said. Mr Kerr said he had been shocked by what he had seen during this year's intensive efforts to break up gangs, with almost every major operation triggering even more investigations.

Eighteen people found guilty over Newcastle sex grooming network

The trials for Operation Shelter finally concluded this week. There were 108 potential victims identified, girls and young women who had been targeted because of their vulnerability. The outgoing chief constable of Northumbria police, Steve Ashman, said sexual exploitation like this was “the challenge of our generation”.

In a series of four trials at Newcastle crown court, juries found the men guilty of a catalogue of nearly 100 offences – ranging from rape, human trafficking, conspiracy to incite prostitution and drug supply – between 2011 and 2014. The men befriended more than twenty victims and invited them to “sessions” at properties, mostly in the west end of the city. 

How big brands including Sports Direct unwittingly used slave labour

How can there be forced labour in the supply chains of big brands like Sports Direct and vegetable farms? This article goes some way to answering that question, describing how modern slavery has "taken root" in the UK economy. 

Although neither the companies nor the agencies were accused of any wrongdoing, the three trials have revealed how the modern-day slave trade has taken root in the UK economy, as big-brand companies have become unwitting users of slave labour. 

Failure to tackle child traffickers ‘like letting rapist loose in London’

Strong words from the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner this week as he condemned the National Crime Agency for not using their modern slavery data to full advantage. Part of the Commissioner's role is to call crime agencies like the NCA to account.

Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, said that important information about modern slavery offences had “sat dormant” on the National Crime Agency’s databases because the crime was not being taken seriously enough. As a result, offenders had not been pursued.

A church with a pub and working together

Two stories from us this week as we spoke to Rev Ian from St Thomas Church in Norwich, who are launching a pub this week. They plan to use the profits to fund their anti-human trafficking work both at home and overseas. We also had a chat with a cross-denominational group from Chester who have been raising awareness of modern slavery for five years. They speak about the importance of working together to make a difference. 

That's it for this week! Tweet us news we have missed @theclewer, and sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with everything we're doing. 

Photo via Flickr from barnyz