On Monday 26th March, on the third anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, the National Crime Agency released the latest figures of potential victims of modern slavery in the UK. The total figure was the highest ever recorded – 5145 – and for the first time British was the most common nationality.
The annual report details how many people have been referred into the National Referral Mechanism in 2017 – the government’s system of support for those who are suspected to be victims of modern slavery. Some of them may not yet been confirmed as ‘official’ victims, a decision that is made while they are under the protection of the NRM.
Of the 5145 potential victims, 2118 of them were minors – under the age of 18. This is a 66% increase on the previous year. The NCA explained that this was partly due to an increase in County Lines gang exploitation referrals, as well as unaccompanied asylum-seeking children being referred to the NRM. Female adults were narrowly the most common demographic at 32%, with male minors at 27%, male adults at 25% and female minors at 16%.
The most common form of exploitation was labour exploitation, at 46%, which includes exploitation in both legitimate businesses such as car washes and in illegitimate businesses such as cannabis farming. Sexual exploitation was the second highest at 34%, while domestic servitude was third at 11%. 9% of the referrals were referenced as 'unknown exploitation'
In 2016 the potential victims came from 108 countries, in 2017 a further 8 nationalities were found, bringing the total to 116. For the first time British nationals were the most common nationality, with Albanian and Vietnamese also in the top three.
The report shows how many victims were referred by each police force. Unsurprisingly the Metropolitan Police Service referred the most with a total of 178. West Midlands Police with 85 and West Yorkshire Police with 80 were next on the list.
You can read the whole report on the National Crime Agency’s website.