Friday links: County lines concerns, tech steps up, and investigations in Cornwall and Newcastle

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) or Facebook, where we will share the article each week, or sign up to our monthly newsletter

Gangs grooming children to carry drugs using increasingly violent tactics

An investigation by ITV into the phenomenon of county lines, that is young people from large cities being groomed and forced to carry and sell drugs in smaller, more rural towns. They speak to a former 'drug mule' who was threatened and forced to sell drugs, a mother who fears she has lost her child to this world, and a gang leader who himself groomed young people. They also speak about how police are using the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to impose harsher penalties on those perpetrating this abuse. 

They didn’t care what happened to me. False loyalty exists and a lot of young people think they are looking out at them but really if you get arrested or killed, they’ll just get someone else. Those lies: we’ll help you look after mummy, feed you, buy you trainers but they’ll drop you at the drop of the hat. It’s like modern day slavery - 100%.
— Andre, a former drug mule

Britain accused of failing in ‘basic moral duty’ to slavery victims

We missed this one last week but thought it important enough to include here, albeit a bit late. The article quotes Kate Roberts from the Human Trafficking Foundation who says that the support provided to survivors is not enough, even for those who have provided evidence to prosecute the perpetrators. As with most areas of modern slavery investigation and support, a lack of data was also raised as an issue, as no one knows what happens to survivors after they have left government support. 

Anecdotally, we know that some victims who have done everything they have been asked to by the authorities are actively re-entering exploitation just to get a roof over their heads. Others who have helped secure the prosecution of their traffickers are finding themselves on the streets.
— Kate Roberts, Human Trafficking Foundation

Big brands from Disney to Walmart back tech startups to tackle supply chain slavery

Last week we linked you to Theresa May's speech urging tech companies to take responsibility for how modern slavery perpetrators use their services to commit crime. This week we learn that the Department for International Development (DfID) has contributed to a new fund specifically for investing in 'innovations to ensure that companies’ supply chains are free of modern slavery.' DfID has given £2.5 million to the fund. 

Human rights abuses like modern slavery are still far too common and businesses are ... investing in innovative technology that will root out these unacceptable practices for good.
— Penny Mordaunt, DFID minister

Cornish gangmaster's license revoked and Seven people arrested in Newcastle

Two big cases this week, at opposite ends of the country. In Cornwall the GLAA has revoked the license of a gangmaster who had been forcing her workers to put in incredibly long hours and housing them in run down, overcrowded caravans with mould on the walls and leaking waste pipes. Meanwhile in Newcastle, the police have arrested seven people and taken 11 potential victims to a safe place after raids on properties in the West End of the city. It is believed that the victims were being exploited in the sex trade. 

One worker started work at 17:47 at a fish processing factory, finished at 04:17 the next day then was supplied by DNK to work at another site from 06:00 to 18:30.Over a two-day period the employee worked 24 hours and 43mins with a break of only 1hr 43min.

Looking for a new challenge? Take one on for Lent

And finally, why not join us on our Lent challenge as we #giveupslavery this Lent. Each week you will learn about a different aspect of modern slavery and be given an action to take against it. 

That's it from us this week. Keep up to date with us the rest of the week by following us on twitter (@theclewer) or Facebook, where we will share the article each week, or sign up to our monthly newsletter.

Photo by Denys Nevozhai on Unsplash