Slaves trafficked into Britain could be painting your nails, washing your car, packing your food and making your clothes, a new report has warned.
The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) - the body that monitors modern slavery in the UK - said people working in sectors including nail bars, car washes, agriculture, construction, warehousing, taxi driving and the garment trade were most at risk.
Reports of slavery and labour abuse, which can include forcing people to work for free to pay back extortionate debts, increased 35% since 2017. Police recorded 2,255 cases of modern slavery in the last year - but they estimate there are in fact “tens of thousands” of offences that go undetected.
Victims of forced labour are typically EU nationals from Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Romania and Slovakia but they also come from Vietnam, Albania and the UK.
They can be tricked into the UK by false promises of work and then forced to live in cramped and dirty accommodation without any means of escape. In some cases, social media is being used to recruit workers who go on to be exploited, with some people arriving in the UK for work that doesn’t exist.
Have you seen a victim of modern slavery? Here’s how to spot the tell tale signs.
- Have restricted freedom
- Depend on their employer for work, transport and accommodation without any choice
- Be unable to communicate freely with others
- Be given only leftovers to eat
- Allow others to speak for them when addressed directly
- Work excessively long hours over long periods
- Not be dressed adequately for the work they do: for example, they may lack protective equipment or warm clothing
- Wear the same clothes each day
If you have any suspicions of human trafficking, forced labour or worker exploitation you should report it to the police or the GLAA on 0800 432 0804.
Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability Victoria Atkins said: “The barbaric nature of modern slavery means it destroys the lives of its victims.”