What is Anti Slavery Day 2021?

What is Anti Slavery Day? (Monday, 18th October 2021)

Anti Slavery Day is backed by lots of community groups, high-profile charities, businesses, and individuals as an opportunity to highlight the scale and impact of severe exploitation.

What is modern slavery?

Modern slavery is when someone subjects another person to undertake forced labour, against their will, for their own personal or financial gain. Types of modern slavery recorded in the UK include criminalised activity (such as pick pocketing or marijuana cultivation), domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced labour, and organ harvesting. Sometimes, people will be subjected to more than one type of exploitation. Often, sexual, psychological and physical violence will be used by traffickers as a means of controlling victims in cases of both adult and childhood exploitation.

Last year, 10,613 trafficking cases were referred to the Home Office, but the actual number of suspected slaves is much higher. 2,178 suspected victims were identified but never referred for support. Shockingly, these figures are the tip of the iceberg. The Centre for Social Justice estimates that 100,000 people are living in slave-like conditions in the UK right now, but few of them will go on to access justice and support.

How are charities marking Anti Slavery Day?     

This year is different to most, as charities across the sector are putting energies into fighting the damaging New Plan for Immigration. The ‘New Plan’ includes attempts to ‘tear up’ parts of the Modern Slavery Act.

Under the proposed law change, the ‘New Plan for Immigration’ would see survivors subjected to more suspicion, even earlier in their support journey. The Nationality and Borders Bill, back in Parliament this coming week, proposes an even ‘tougher’ trafficking determination process (called the National Referral Mechanism),a ‘public order’ exemption which could see survivors of criminal exploitation banned from support, and moves to hold asylum seekers in ‘off-shore’ and prison-like settings, which would make identifying survivors even harder. Rather than simply raising awareness of the horrors of modern slavery, many charities are using this year’s Anti Slavery Day to ask the UK Government to halt its plans to restrict survivor support.

Modern slavery in numbers

  • Last year, 10,613 slavery cases were recorded to the Home Office
  • The Centre for Social Justice estimates that this is the tip of the iceberg, and most survivors will never be identified under the current system. They estimate that more than 100,000 people are living under slave-like condition in the UK right now.
  • Each year, 2,178 suspected victims are identified by authorities but not passed on for support
  • The most common types of exploitation recorded in the UK are for criminal exploitation (34%), labour exploitation (21%) or a combination of more than one form of exploitation
  • Most potential survivors are non-UK nationals (66%) but a growing number are UK nationals (34%), who must also make a convincing case in order to access help from the Home Office

What risks face survivors after leaving exploitation?

  • Immigration detention: Many survivors are locked up as a result of their immigration status before they are recognised. In part, this is due to inconsistent legal advice, as well as poor vetting within the UK’s immigration detention process. Since January 2019, at least 2,914 potential victims have been held under Immigration Powers.
  • Re-trafficking: A lack of guaranteed protection and safe housing for both UK and non-UK national victims can put survivors at risk of re-trafficking. With no shelter, victims are more easily targeted by the same networks who exploited them in the first place. Only 21% of people supported as survivors of trafficking have access to safe housing in the UK.
  • Financial strain: Survivors have been subjected to numerous attempts to cut financial support, including an attempt to cut benefits to asylum seeking potential victims by £30 a week during the height of the pandemic.
  • Deportation: Even when survivors go to great lengths to prove they have been trafficked, they are not necessarily allowed to rebuild their lives in the UK. Not all people who have been trafficked are eligible for asylum, and only 12% of survivors who apply for discretionary leave are successful.

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