Slavery – not so funny after all…

Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, Gould (and any other business with a turnover exceeding £36 million) has been obliged to produce a Modern Day Slavery statement with an annual review, and undertake staff training. In early training sessions there was a tendency to initially treat UK slavery as a bit of a joke and a very unlikely scenario. But as time goes by, accounts of UK slavery are growing in frequency. We’ve seen the first conviction for human trafficking in the UK, and there was over 2,500 slavery offences recorded by police in England and Wales in 2016. Slavery has now been identified in construction, care homes, nail bars and hand car washes. It is coming closer to our own industry - see a recent paper trade example:

Nottingham man forced vulnerable immigrant to work 20 hours a day making cards

Where does modern slavery occur?

Nowhere in the world is free of modern slavery, but some parts of the world have particularly high incidence levels. Five countries account for 58% of the World’s slavery: India, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan and Russia.

Around 10,000 to 13,000 people are estimated to be in slavery in the UK (0.02% of the population) whilst there are about 18 million in India (1.4% of the population).

The scale of slavery is staggering. It is estimated that some 45.8 million men, women and children are victims of modern slavery, although figures are difficult to gauge (source ILO suggests in excess of 40 million, Walk Free Foundation shares data with Global Slavery Index and also suggests 45.8 million; more than ever in world history.

What is modern slavery? (source

Someone is in slavery if they are:

Forced to work by mental or physical threat
Owned or controlled by an employer, usually by mental or physical abuse or threat of abuse
Dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as property
Physically constrained or has restrictions placed on freedom of movement.

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking involves men, women and children being brought into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence, deception or coercion. People can be trafficked for many different forms of exploitation such as forced labour, forced prostitution, forced begging, forced criminality, domestic servitude, forced marriage or forced organ removal. Simply bringing children into exploitative conditions constitutes trafficking.

How you can identify that someone is in slavery and what you should do.

Slavery is often hidden and can be difficult to identify, but there are few signs which might mean that someone is in slavery. Someone in slavery might:

Appear to be in the control of someone else and reluctant to interact with others
Not have personal identification on them
Have few personal belongings, wear the same clothes every day or wear unsuitable clothes for work
Not be able to move around freely
Be reluctant to talk to strangers or the authorities
Appear frightened, withdrawn, or show signs of physical or psychological abuse
Be dropped off and collected for work hin the same way, especially at unusual times, i.e. very early or late at night.

If you believe you have spotted someone who might be in slavery, you can call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700 or call the police or Crimestoppers. Do not try to intervene on your own as it might make the situation of that person worse.

Further reading: