In 2018 the Metropolitan Police reported 263 cases of modern slavery in London
However, figures from the National Crime Agency (NCA) say frontline responders reported 420 potential victims of modern slavery in the capital last year.
The data, taken from the agency’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM), details referrals that have been made by ‘first responders’ – including public bodies and NGOs – who suspect people to be victims.
The reports are then processed by the NCA’s Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit or the UK Visas and Immigration team.
These organisations then consider whether an individual is a victim of modern slavery.
A government campaign has been launched to raise awareness of modern slavery of which almost 7,000 potential cases in the UK were reported to the NRM last year – an increase of 75 per cent in the five years from 2013 – 2018.
The campaign aims to teach frontline professionals in the finance, healthcare and recruitment industries to spot the key signs of illegal exploitation.
Workers in these sectors are more likely to be able to identify potential victims as modern slavery gang members often look to exploit liberties such as accessing free healthcare, easily opening a bank account or being able to claim employment benefits.
Alex Aiken, executive director for government communications, said: “This modern slavery campaign will help to save victims from a life of exploitation. This is a powerful example of how the government communications service works with public services and the third and private sectors to save lives.”
The campaign is calling for workers in the identified key sectors to look out for the following signs:
- Victims may appear withdrawn, frightened or confused
- Victims may be accompanied by someone who appears controlling or unwilling to leave them alone – and may be posing as their relative or translator
- Victims may not be in possession of their own documents
- Victims may be forced to pay cash wages into someone else’s bank account
- Victims may share the same address as many others
- Victims may appear unsure or be vague when giving personal details
The Global Slavery Index estimate there are more than 136,000 people are living in modern slavery in the UK – 2.1 victims for every 1,000 residents.