136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK

What is Modern Slavery? Who does it affect? Where is it happening?

The current estimates from the Global Slavery Index suggest that there are around 136,000 victims of modern slavery in the UK alone. Despite this knowledge, last year, only 10,627 victims were referred to the National Referral Mechanism.

In a recent airing of The Archers on BBC Radio 4 they highlighted the shocking reality of modern slavery in Britain. The episode itself told the story of the horrific ways men from the ‘well-to-do’ county of Borsetshire were controlled and objectified as part of a corrupt network of human traffickers.

When listening to the episode, we were grateful for seeing modern slavery issues being brought to life by the BBC. It is a reminder to us all that it is a serious and organised crime affecting men, women, and children and can be present in all business sectors.

Following the enactment of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 organisations with a turnover of over £36 million (or more) who carry out their business (or part of their business) in the UK, are required to publish a modern slavery statement on their website and update it annually. Currently, organisations such as The Crown Commercial Service (CCS) and Transparency in Supply Chains (TISC) are working to support companies in understanding modern slavery risks and the publication of their statements. Thankfully, the exposure of modern slavery within supply chains of an organisation has a profound impact.

In recognition of the work that needs to be done to tackle modern slavery issues, we are working alongside the Government to launch a digital modern slavery registry service. The service itself will provide the opportunity for organisations to upload their modern slavery statement to a central portal. Organisations, both private and public, will be able to share best practice and will uncover any areas for concern. We are working together with organisations to understand the best way to create a service that will ultimately drive down the number of modern slavery victims.

We also wholly support the campaigns of the charities Unseen and Hope for Justice. Their work helps the public understand what actions can be taken to manage some of the challenges we face. This is an essential part of solving the problem. We are only too aware that helping people understand the pervasiveness of modern slavery, is just a starting point to begin challenging what people see and experience in organisations.

We are immensely proud of our work and hope it will contribute to the long-term goal to wipe out modern slavery. If you have experienced modern slavery in your supply chain or seen organisations tackling it, we would love to hear from you. Equally, if you want to have a conversation on how your organisation can support the efforts to eradicate modern slavery, please contact us for an informal chat.

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