13 October 2022

Army sees 15 per cent increase in modern slavery referrals

Isobel McFarlane

The front cover of The Salvation Army's annual report on its modern slavery response

As the annual report on the Army’s modern slavery response is released, Salvationists are encouraged to take a stand on Anti-Slavery Day (18 October), reports Isobel McFarlane.

The Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit has released its eleventh annual report on its work providing specialist support to adult victims of modern slavery in England and Wales through the Government’s Modern Slavery Victim Care Contract.

The report showed that from July 2021 to June 2022, of the 3,068 people from 100 different nationalities referred to The Salvation Army and its partners:

  • 46 per cent experienced labour exploitation such as being forced to work in factories, building sites or farms with little or no pay – a 36 per cent rise from 2020/21;
  • 23 per cent experienced sexual exploitation – a 10 per cent rise from 2020/21;
  • 5 per cent experienced criminal exploitation, like being forced to sell drugs – a 27% rise from 2020/21.

Major Kathy Betteridge, director of Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery, says that the data shows criminal gangs are tightening their grip on modern slavery: ‘Organised crime is at the heart of the modern slavery. Violent gangs think nothing of trafficking people to sell and forcing them into criminal activity.

Kathy Betteridge

‘It’s also important to remember that it’s not just people who are trafficked from overseas, British people are the second most common nationality in our services. The sophisticated and often brutal methods used to trick and manipulate people into slavery touches all nationalities. 

‘You can help The Salvation Army and the police in our battle against this vile trade in people’s lives. People trapped in modern slavery are hidden in plain sight in villages, towns and cities across the UK. We can all help fight modern slavery and raise the alarm if we spot something suspicious and are worried that someone is being exploited. So many of the people we support in our services had been trapped for years but your call could be the start of their path to freedom and recovery.’

The Salvation Army’s free confidential 24/7 referral helpline is available for anyone who suspects they or someone they have met may be a victim of modern slavery and needs help. Call 0800 808 3733. 

If there is an immediate danger or if you think that the suspected victim is under 18, inform the police and call 999 as a matter of urgency. 

Written by

Isobel McFarlane

Isobel McFarlane

PR & Communications

Two people clenching their fists with a barcode temporary tattoo on their wrists with the words We Are Not for Sale'

Take a stand on Anti-Slavery Day

Join the #WeAreNotForSale campaign on 18 October.

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Emily Bright finds out how mentors are helping modern slavery survivors to thrive.

Ivan Radford explores the current challenges facing the Army’s Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Unit.

Our vision is to bring an end to slavery, fight for social justice and respond with compassionate care.

The Salvation Army's International Positional Statement on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.

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