On Anti-Slavery Day (Friday, 18 October), London Councils is reaffirming London boroughs’ commitment to rooting out modern slavery in the capital and protecting vulnerable people who become victims.
Councils come across modern slavery in a range of contexts. These may include housing inspectors who investigate a rogue landlord and discover large numbers of people coerced into living and working together; health and safety inspectors who encounter people working in car washes and nail bars being exploited for their labour; and children’s services officers who come across young people who are victims of county lines and sexual exploitation.
London boroughs confront a disproportionately high number of modern slavery situations. According to National Crime Agency statistics on the National Referral Mechanism, which identifies potential victims and ensures they receive support, there were 2,087 referrals to the Metropolitan Police in 2018 This represents 30% of all referrals across the entire UK.
77% of Londoners think that modern slavery is a serious problem in the UK. However, according to recent YouGov polling commissioned by London Councils, only 30% of Londoners think that modern slavery is taking place in their local community.
Boroughs are calling on Londoners to be alert to signs of modern slavery and exploitation in their local community, and to report any concerns to the police or Modern Slavery helpline.
Modern slavery helpline: 08000 121 700.
Cllr Peter John OBE, Chair of London Councils, said:
“On Anti-Slavery Day, we urge Londoners to take action if they think someone they encounter might be a victim of modern slavery, so we can investigate and take appropriate steps to help victims.
“Modern slavery often occurs behind closed doors and can include everything from forced labour to sexual exploitation. It is unacceptable that vulnerable people are being exploited in such harrowing ways, a gross violation of their human rights and dignity.
“London boroughs are deeply concerned about modern slavery in London. Because of our unique cross-cutting role, councils have duties as first responders to work with the relevant authorities and identify and respond to potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery.”