18 October is the national Anti-Slavery Day, created to raise awareness of modern slavery and to inspire government, businesses and individuals to eliminate it.
The public must join the fight in tackling modern slavery and help the police to find victims who are being traded by criminals, James Tullett, the head of victims of slavery support at Migrant Help UK, said yesterday. (Mon)
He said the public needed to be the eyes of the authorities at a time when there are more men, women and children being abused and exploited for the sole purpose of making money from criminals than at any other time in history.
“People are being held in domestic servitude or forced to work for little or no wages in places such as nail bars or car washes. We need people to be vigilant and, if the spot anything suspicious, to alert the police.”
The charity was supported by Kevin Hyland, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, who helped launch Migrant Help UK’s Back to Life exhibition on modern slavery and human trafficking in London yesterday.
The exhibition, which highlights the extent of the problem and raises awareness, is touring mainline railway stations this week. It will be in Bristol today (Tues), which is Anti-Slavery Day; Birmingham tomorrow; Liverpool on Thursday and Edinburgh on Friday.
Mr Hyland said: “It is important for the public, private sector and statutory agencies to all work together so that we can start to address this issue and actually follow what the United Kingdom says it wants to do which is to be the global leader in eradicating slavery from the face of the earth.
“Internationally the numbers of people being trafficked and exploited are incredible and the response is limited. But the work of organisations such as Migrant Help UK, who provide that day to day support, is crucial.
“I’m keen to look at the support for victims so that organisations like Migrant Help UK are properly supported, properly funded and properly co-ordinated with the statutory agencies.
“I also want to look at police forces, county by county, to see how effectively they are tackling this crime. Some have been doing incredible work. Others, questions are raised by the lack of activity in their areas.”
Margaret Beels, chair of the Gangmasters Licensing Authority, which works in partnership with Migrant Help UK, said: “The unfair and unlawful exploitation of workers is not only an offence against those vulnerable workers but also undermines legitimate businesses and destabilises local communities.”
For more information about the exhibition visit www.backtolife.org.uk.