'Lockdown' modern slavery discoveries tip of the iceberg

published on 7 Jul 2020

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director of Anti Trafficking and Modern Slavery for The Salvation Army said:

“The news this weekend of cases where slavery and exploitation have been identified in communities in Britain brings mixed blessings. Whilst we are comforted that some people have been rescued and can now receive the support they need and deserve, it demonstrates the sad reality that these horrendous practices are taking place all around us.

The Salvation Army’s modern slavery referral helpline takes calls from people who suspect that they or someone they’ve come across could be a victim of modern slavery and in need of help. After an initial lull in the immediate aftermath of lockdown, the phones have started ringing again and we’re helping more and more people referred to us having escaped slavery for the specialist support we offer through our network of safe houses and outreach workers.

“We are grateful to the police and others in maintaining the vigilance needed to find and rescue people in slavery. This and the support of the general public, as our eyes and ears spotting possible signs of slavery and reporting their suspicions, is more important now than ever. We are worried that people were discarded by their captors when social distancing closed businesses where exploitation through slavery is a risk such as car washes, factories and restaurants.  

“Looking further ahead, as international borders reopen and a global economic downturn leaves more people across the world in poverty, criminals will look to exploit demand for cheap labour or prey on more young or vulnerable people to exploit in ‘County Lines’ networks and other illegal activities. We need to ensure that people at risk in the UK and overseas are not trapped and mistreated in this way.

The Salvation Army will continue our activities across the world to support the communities most at risk of this kind of exploitation and, just as they have throughout the pandemic, our safe houses and outreach services will be open to help people access the support they need as they begin to rebuild their lives.”

The common signs someone is being exploited through slavery are:

Some signs are physical:

  • They may look uneasy, unkempt, or malnourished
  • They may have untreated injuries

Some signs are less obvious:

  • Someone paying for their travel
  • Someone speaking for them
  • Perhaps they are picked up and dropped off from work at unusual times 
  • They may not be sure of their own address
  • When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change


More information on our modern slavery work

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