Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

Some 117 cases were referred to the Agency from West Midlands Police last year - up 38 per cent from the 85 recorded in 2017

There were more than 300 suspected victims of modern slavery identified in the West Midlands last year - and two thirds were children.

New statistics published by the National Crime Agency show an alarming rise in the number of modern slavery cases across Birmingham and the West Midlands.

Some 117 cases were referred to the Agency from West Midlands Police last year - up 38 per cent from the 85 recorded in 2017.

Of those there were 87 cases relating to labour exploitation, 21 sexual exploitation cases, four domestic servitude cases and five other cases.

Local councils in the West Midlands met area also recorded a further 181 children and 11 adults.

Around 68 per cent of the total 309 alleged victims were children.

Officials say the increase is due to referrals for ‘county lines’ - where children as young as 12 are forced into supplying drugs from large cities to rural areas.

The National Referral Mechanism (NRM) is a framework for identifying victims of modern slavery or human trafficking and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.

It is also the mechanism through which data is collected about victims, helping to build a clearer picture about the scope of the threat.

Of the 117 exploitation cases reported by West Midlands Police, 22 were UK citizens.

There were 33 females and 84 males.

The rise in the West Midlands mirrors a national trend.

The number of British potential victims of modern slavery in 2018 was almost double the number from 2017, while the numbers of minors referred increased by 48 per cent.

The National Crime Agency said that the increases were driven by the numbers referred for labour exploitation, which includes those exploited by ‘county lines’ gangs.

The total number of potential victims - including foreign nationals - reported to the authorities has risen by more than 80 per cent in two years.

Nationally, statistics show that shows that 6,993 potential victims were referred into the system in 2018, up from 5,142 in 2017, and 3,804 in 2016.

For the second consecutive year British citizens made up the largest nationality (1,625), with Albanians (947) and Vietnamese (702) second and third.

There were 3,980 labour exploitation cases, 1,927 sexual exploitation, and 515 cases of domestic servitude.

There were also six cases of organ harvesting - four of which involved boys under the age of 18.

'Snapshot of the true scale of slavery and trafficking'

NCA Deputy Director Roy McComb said: “The increase is undoubtedly the result of greater awareness, understanding and reporting of modern slavery and that is something to be welcomed.

“However, the more we look the more we find, and it is likely these figures represent only a snapshot of the true scale of slavery and trafficking in the UK.

“Of particular concern is the increase in referrals made for ‘county lines’ type exploitation. These are often vulnerable individuals - often children - who are exploited by criminal gangs for the purposes of drug trafficking.

“Our understanding of the threat is much greater than it was a few years ago, and modern slavery remains a high priority for law enforcement, with around 1,500 criminal investigations currently live in the UK.

“But we cannot stop modern slavery alone, we need support and assistance from across the public and private sectors, NGOs and most of all the public themselves.”

Article from: https://www.birminghammail.co.uk/news/midlands-news/scandal-birminghams-modern-slavery-victims-16074158