LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - People who look unkempt, scared or work without proper clothing might be the victim of slavery, Britain’s anti-slavery body said on Wednesday, as it urged the public to report any suspicions.
Slavery predominantly affects immigrants and vulnerable people, often working at car washes, nail bars and farms, said the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA), as it launched a campaign to help the public identify trafficking.
“The public needs to understand and be aware that modern slavery is happening right now, in and around the communities they live,” said GLAA’s chief Paul Broadbent in a statement.
At least 13,000 people are estimated to be victims of modern slavery in Britain, but police say that figure is just the tip of an iceberg, with numbers rising countrywide.
Potential signs of slavery include poor hygiene, injury and malnourishment, living in cramped or dirty accommodation, a suspicious manner and seeming under the influence or control of others, said the GLAA.
The awareness campaign, run in partnership with the Crimestoppers charity, will spread messages on social media, display posters and distribute leaflets across the country.
“We want to reassure victims that (slavery) is an issue that is taken extremely seriously, and make it clear to perpetrators that they will be found and prosecuted,” Emily Van der Lely, head of Crimestoppers’ slavery department, said in a statement.
The campaign is part of a wider efforts to bring a largely hidden crime into the open.
Crimestoppers said it had received more than 350 tipoffs in the past six months, up 126 percent on the previous six months.
In August, police said slavery was more prevalent than previously thought, with gangs capitalizing on a crime estimated to generate profits of $150 billion a year globally.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to double Britain’s aid on global projects tackling slavery and human trafficking to 150 million pounds ($200.76 million) and to boost training for police and prosecutors.
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Reporting by Umberto Bacchi @UmbertoBacchi, Editing by Lyndsay Griffiths. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, climate change and resilience. Visit news.trust.org