Every year, thousands of men, women and children fall into the hands of human traffickers, becoming unpaid modern-day slaves in their own countries and abroad. Our Diocese is committed to combatting modern slavery in all its guises and has set up a Steering Group attached to our Social Action Commission which aims to:
Facilitate and co-ordinate public awareness of Modern Slavery and its abolition.
Support the practical needs of the victims of modern slavery in conjunction with relevant organisations and groups - including the provision of safe accommodation for those rescued from slavery.
Assist the Police in bringing the perpetrators to justice.
Modern slavery manifests in many different guises including forced domestic service, human trafficking for exploitation, and crimes which enable trafficking. It is a human rights violation which has very serious consequences for the health and wellbeing of survivors; victims are often hidden away and may be unable to leave their situation, or unable to come forward because of fear or shame.
American organisation Human Rights First estimates the total annual revenue of traffickers in 2014 was 116 billion pounds; according to some studies, it ranks as the second most profitable worldwide criminal enterprise after the illegal arms trade.
Unfortunately, the hidden nature of the crime means that it is very difficult to produce accurate figures of the numbers of people involved. The Office for National Statistics reports that there were 5,144 modern slavery offences recorded by police in England and Wales in the year ending March 2019, an increase of 51% on the previous year. This is only part of the story as many cases go unreported: worldwide 1 in 4 victims are children.
‘Human trafficking is a crime against humanity. We must unite our efforts to
free victims and stop this crime that’s become ever more aggressive, that
threatens not just individuals, but the foundational values of society.’
Modern slavery is real and is happening all around us; we need to be vigilant! There are a number of signs which can indicate if someone is in an exploitative situation or being trafficked. They include:
• Showing signs of physical or psychological trauma: looking malnourished or unkempt, anxious or agitated.
• Appearing withdrawn and neglected.
• Being fearful, anxious or distrustful of authorities.
• Having injuries that could be the result of controlling measures or have been left untreated.
• Being unfamiliar with local language or geography.
• Not knowing their home or work address - recounting a story that sounds rehearsed.
• Dependency on, or the presence of, a ‘controller’.
• Believing that they have a debt to pay off.
• Being separated from important documents including their ID or passport.
• Not having days off or being unable to leave work.
• Having limited or no social interaction.
• Having threats made against themselves or their family.
If you believe a person is being trafficked and is in immediate danger, you should call 999 immediately. You can report suspicions of trafficking by calling 101 or visiting your local police station.
Our Diocesan Steering Group on Modern Slavery welcomes new members! The task to overcome this heinous practice is enormous. Our Steering Group aims to combat modern slavery wherever it is found, diligently working toward its abolition by collaborating with other churches and external organisations, actively raising awareness, and assisting the police in bringing the perpetrators modern slavery to justice.
'We hope to form a network of individuals and groups across our Diocese. Working together we can raise awareness, encouraging people to be vigilant and giving them the tools they need to report suspicious activity. Providing individuals and groups with the latest information means they can be active in every way to eradicate this affront to human dignity. Our remit includes lobbying, where appropriate, for rigorous application of goverment legislation, holding companies and organisations accountable for their supply chains and hidden sources of exploitation.'
To join the Steering Group on Modern Slavery; E: firstname.lastname@example.org
You can get additional information and advice from the following organisations:
Please contact our Social Action Advisor; E: Tessa.Ricketts@abdiocese.org.uk if you, or your parish would be interested in receiving a talk or being a part of the diocesan response to modern slavery.