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Home Secretary announces improvements to support victims of modern slavery as Salvation Army reveals scale of problem

Date of Publication: 
23 October 2017

Salvation Army says 300 per cent increase in modern slavery victims

Home Secretary announces improved support for victims of modern slavery as Salvation Army reveals scale of problem

23 October 2017

Home Secretary Amber Rudd last week announced three new measures to reform the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and improve the way in which victims of modern slavery are identified and supported.

The new measures are:

  • a single, expert unit to be created in the Home Office to handle all cases referred from front line staff and to make decisions about whether somebody is a victim of modern slavery, this will replace the current case management units in the National Crime Agency and UK Visas and Immigration, and will be completely separate from the immigration system
  • an independent panel of experts to review all negative decisions, adding significantly to the scrutiny such cases currently receive
  • a new digital system to support the NRM process, making it easier for those on the front line to refer victims for support and enabling data to be captured and analysed to better aid prevention and law enforcement

The measures were agreed at a meeting of the Prime Minister's Modern Slavery Taskforce. Amber Rudd said the taskforce agreed that reform of the NRM was essential to make sure the best interest of victims is at its heart.

The new measures were welcomed as a "significant step forward in the fight against modern slavery" by the Anti-Slavery Commissioner Kevin Hyland.

The Salvation Army also warmly welcomed the new measures, saying: "we welcome measures such as these, which are designed to make the process more efficient, reliable and transparent and to give highly vulnerable people more certainty about their future."

Earlier last week, the Salvation Army released a 39-page on modern slavery in the UK, which you can read online here or download as a PDF file here.

The Salvation Army has a Government contract through which it manages the delivery of all specialist support services to adult victims of modern slavery and their dependents identified in England and Wales.

As Channel 4 News reported, the Salvation Army report found that cases of modern slavery in Britain have soared in recent years.

The Salvation Army said there has been a 300 per cent increase in the number of modern slavery victim referrals over the last six years.

The most recent annual figures show that 48 per cent of victims are trafficked for sexual exploitation, 39 per cent for labour exploitation and 13 per cent for domestic servitude.

The top five countries of origin of the victims were Albania, Vietnam, Nigeria, Poland and China. In total, victims were trafficked from 91 different countries in the year ending June 2017, more than double the 43 source countries of victims in 2011.

The Salvation Army's Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery, Anne Read, said: "Year on year we are witnessing progress in the way the UK tackles this crime. We see high levels of dedication, commitment and innovation from the people who work for The Salvation Army and alongside us to provide the most effective service we can to families and individuals who deserve the very best we can give, having suffered at the hands of people who would abuse and exploit them.

"We are strongly committed to working in partnership and believe that there is more to be achieved when we combine forces and collaborate in our efforts to prevent trafficking and protect its victims."

Also last week, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner launched his annual report for 2016/2017, which you can read here.

The report details the successes and challenges of combating modern slavery over the last 12 months.

The Anti-Slavery Commissioner said: "The last year has led to significant steps forward in the fight against this crime, with more victims identified and referred for support and more criminal investigations commenced ... Combating this crime is clearly a priority for Her Majesty’s Government, but there is still much more to be done."