UK slavery referrals up by a third

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The number of potential victims of labour exploitation referred as part of the framework set up to identify victims of modern slavery in the UK increased by 33 per cent from 2015 to 2016, according to analysis of National Crime Agency data by Kroll, the risk mitigation specialist.

The data, which is taken from the National Referral Mechanism, the framework in which potential victims of human trafficking or modern slavery are referred by authorised agencies such as police forces, the UK Border Force or Social Services, reveals that there were 1,575 referrals for labour exploitation in 2016.

Some 1,107 were adults – up 24 per cent on the previous year. The other 468 were minors – a 63 per cent increase on the year before.

The Modern Slavery Act 2015 (the “Act”) passed into UK law in March 2015. The Act’s Transparency in Supply Chains provision introduced a disclosure requirement for businesses with an annual turnover of £36 million or more.

Kroll found that Vietnam was the country of origin for the highest number of potential labour exploitation victims in the UK referred in 2016, with 307 individuals. This was followed by Albania with 194 potential victims and Poland with 140.

Kevin Braine, head of Kroll’s compliance practice in EMEA, said: “These numbers demonstrate two things: firstly with an estimated 13,000 victims of modern slavery, the UK is still far from immune to this type of appalling human rights abuse. Secondly, the sharp increase in the number of referrals shows that awareness and detection of modern slavery has improved since the introduction of the Act.

“One way businesses can contribute is by auditing their supply chains and making sure that they are not at risk of endorsing or supporting these terrible labour practices. There are relatively simple steps companies can take to ensure there are no issues in their increasingly complex supply chains.”

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