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'Tragic, horrible, heart-breaking', Christians urge Govt to help 100,000 people enslaved in the UK

by Tola Mbakwe

Christian campaigners have called on the UK Government to enact policy that will help victims of modern-day slavery. It comes as a new report by the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) and anti-slavery charity Justice and Care suggests that at least 100,000 people are victims in the country. 

The report, entitled 'It Still Happens Here: Fighting UK Slavery in the 2020s', found that slavery is still rampant in the UK. The research also discovered that only 30 per cent of the population are confident in spotting the signs of modern slavery and a further 60 per cent wouldn't know where to report them if they did suspect something.

Lucy Colman is a Christian and special advisor at Justice and Care who helped write the report. She told Premier that incidences of modern slavery often occur right before our eyes and urged the public to learn more about the warning signs. 

"We'd look for things like poor living conditions, people who are particularly isolated," she said. "In lockdown, there were cases of people reporting people coming and going from houses, which turned out to be brothels, at kind of odd times, not obeying the lockdown rules."

Colman added that identifiable signs of abuse include "people who are unkempt, who are travelling at unusual times or who are reluctant to seek help" and highlighted that slavery is often "kind of hidden in plain sight… in nail bars and hand car washes and salons and places like that". 

"So there are signs to spot and it is really important for us to know what they are," she said. 

Colman added that one of the most disturbing things to emerge from the report was "seeing how often victims who are discovered are failed by the support systems".

The report recommended that the best way for the Government to see an end to modern slavery is by supporting the newly tabled Modern Slavery (Victim Support) Bill. 

Lord McColl's Bill would guarantee confirmed victims of modern slavery in England and Wales statutory support both to protect them from the risk of destitution, homelessness, or re-trafficking and to help them rebuild their lives. 

This would include financial assistance, accommodation, and the right to remain all for a period of 12 months with the possibility of an extension if their needs require it.

Christian public policy charity CARE helped write the Bill. 

The charity's spokesperson James Mildred said the scale of the issue, the fact that slavery is hidden, and the crimes operating across international borders make it difficult to bring criminals to justice. But added supporting the victims is a major way to help. 

"One of the great reasons for giving victims that guarantee [of support] is that if you do that, the evidence suggests they are more likely to have the confidence to testify in a court of law to help bring the perpetrators to justice," he said. 

"I hope what happens as a result of this report is it really helps people to grasp that tragically, horribly in communities all around us, hidden in plain sight, is the reality of modern-day slavery."

The report comes as Tory MP Andrew Bridgen said he believes as many as 10,000 people could be working in slave-like conditions in textile factories in Leicester.

Clothing firm Quiz said on Monday it believes that one of its suppliers, based in the city, has used a subcontractor at the centre of allegations over breaches to the national living wage.

The company said it is looking into the issue, just a week after similar allegations took more than a third off the share price of Boohoo.

Justice Secretary Robert Buckland said modern slavery is in "every town and city in Britain" and welcomed the National Crime Agency's statement last week that it is assessing allegations of modern slavery and exploitation in the textile industry in Leicester.

Listen to Premier's interviews with James Mildred and Lucy Colman:


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