The number of victims of modern slavery in the UK receiving support from the Salvation Army has more than tripled since 2011.
The Salvation Army is responsible for providing the government’s Victim Care Contract, to manage the support of adult victims of modern slavery.
Between April 2015 and March this year more than 1,300 victims entered the charity’s care, compared to just 378 in 2011, its first year of providing the service, according statistics in its latest report. The total number of victims in its care between April 2015 and March 2016 was 1,800.
Anne Read, the Salvation Army’s director of anti trafficking and modern slavery, said it was difficult to tell if the statistics showed an actual increase in the number of modern slaves in the UK or reflected better reporting.
“I think there is likely to be an increase in the number of victims, it’s a very lucrative crime,” she said. However, Read also acknowledged awareness around the issue has greatly improved since the Salvation Army was first awarded the Victim Care Contract.
“Since the Modern Slavery Act there’s been a good increase in the number of prosecutions,” she added.
Of the victims given support in the 12 months from April last year, 42% had been exploited for labour, while 44% of victims were subjected to sexual exploitation and 13% were victims of domestic servitude.
Read said while people used to think trafficking was primarily about sexual exploitation, there is now a greater awareness of other forms of slavery.
“We’re seeing more recognition that sometimes [modern slavery] is in labour exploitation… and the types of exploitation that we’re seeing just continues to expand. We’ve known that people have been exploited in the construction industry for example, agriculture, fisheries, and now we’re seeing also it’s happening in small businesses, maybe car washes, nail bars,” she said.
The report said Albanians made up the largest nationality of victim referrals in the last year, although a large number of Polish, Nigerian and Vietnamese nationals were also trafficked. The report said 34 British nationals were victims of trafficking within the UK.
In total, the Salvation Army said it had supported more than 4,500 victims of trafficking and modern slavery since it took over the Victim Care Contract.
The Salvation Army has a 24-hour confidential helpline on 0300 3038151 for victims or anyone who suspects they have come into contact with a victim of modern slavery.
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