Child Protection Committees (CPS) Scotland released a statement about the continued problem of slavery to coincide with the annual Anti-Slavery Day on Thursday 18 October. The national group of child protection specialists consists of Chairs of local child protection committees, third sector representatives and national public sector bodies.
Slavery was abolished in the UK in 1883, so many people don’t realise that it’s still happening around the world, let alone so close to home.
Modern slavery continues to thrive, however - there are thought to be 40 million victims of human trafficking and other forms of modern slavery world-wide. The British Government estimates that there are 13,000 victims within the UK, of which over 4,000 are believed to be children.
In 2017, over 200 people - including 53 children - were formally identified as victims of human slavery in Scotland. This includes slave labour, for example in the hospitality sector, in beauty businesses, on farms, and even in domestic homes. Victims may also be forced into sex work or crime.
The 53 children who were identified are now safe from such exploitation and receiving care and support. But Andrew Lowe, spokesperson for Child Protection Committees Scotland, say these children may be “only the tip of a slavery iceberg... If you see anything that worries you, please don’t stay silent about slavery,” he urges.
While the Human Trafficking and Exploitation (Scotland) Act 2015 is helping to raise awareness of these crimes against human rights and has resulted in an increase in the identification of victims, there is still a lot to be done. It’s vital that we all play a part in ending this exploitation of vulnerable individuals by taking action if we have any suspicions or concerns.
Anyone with concerns about modern-day slavery can contact Police Scotland directly on 101 or call the dedicated Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.