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Modern slavery
© U.S. Air Force

Modern slavery ‘more prevalent in UK’

11/08/17Government

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has said that modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is ‘far more prevalent than previously thought’.

The NCA said there were more than 300 live policing operations currently underway, with cases affecting ‘every large town and city in the country’.

The agency estimated that there were tens of thousands of victims.

It said previous estimates of 10,000-13,000 victims in the UK were found to be the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

“The more we look, the more we find,” the NCA’s vulnerabilities director Will Kerr said.

Kerr said he had been surprised by what he had seen during this year’s intensive efforts to separate gangs, with almost every major operation triggering even more investigations.

He warned that trafficking into modern slavery was now so widespread that ‘ordinary’ people would be unwittingly coming into contact with victims every day.

The NCA said the growth in modern slavery was being driven by international gangs increasingly recognising the amount of money they could make by controlling people within a range of economic sectors, rather than just dealing drugs.

It warned that the key sectors for slavery now included food processing, fishing, agriculture, construction, domestic and care workers and car washes.

Kerr said: “We have been shocked by the scale of what we have seen…

“As you go about your normal daily life there is a growing and a good chance that you will come across a victim who has been exploited and that’s why we are asking the public to recognise their concerns and report them.”

People from Eastern Europe, Vietnam and Nigeria were the most common victims brought to the UK, Kerr said.