The National Crime Agency estimates that there are tens of thousands of people being held in modern slavery in the UK, trapped in situations such as forced labour, domestic servitude or sex exploitation. In reality, the number could be far higher and a recent Guardian report on human trafficking highlighted that it is often hidden in plain sight. Last year, there were 5,145 cases reported in the UK and 41% of these involved children under 18. To stop this abhorrent crime, we must all be vigilant and stand watch against those responsible for modern day slavery (MDS), “rooting it out of our communities, leaving no refuge for traffickers”. The NSPCC states that “the signs that a child has been trafficked may not be obvious, but that you might notice unusual behaviour or events”. These could include observations of a child who:
• spends a lot of time doing household chores
• rarely leaves their house, has no freedom of movement and no time for playing
• is orphaned or living apart from their family, often in unregulated private foster care
• lives in substandard accommodation
• isn’t sure which country, city or town they’re in
• is unable or reluctant to give personal details or information about accommodation
• might not be registered with a school or a GP practice
• gives a prepared story which is very similar to stories given by other children
In addition, the NSPCC provides useful guidance on the possible signs that an adult is involved in child trafficking that can help support your decision to report concerns.
Details of how to respond to suspected cases of MDS are set out in Bracknell Forest LSCB’s online procedures and provide details on the ‘National Referral Mechanism’ for safeguarding victims of slavery. Specific MDS referral and assessment forms can be downloaded directly from the Home Office website which also promotes the use of the Modern Slavery helpline 0800 0121 700.
If you see any suspicious activity, or you feel that something isn’t right follow the above guidance, but remember that you can still contact police online, call 101, or in an emergency dial 999.