The BBC reports that there is probably more slavery in the UK than had been thought.
There could be between 10,000 and 13,000 victims of slavery in the UK, higher than previous figures, analysis for the Home Office suggests.
Modern slavery victims are said to include women forced into prostitution, “imprisoned” domestic staff and workers in fields, factories and fishing boats.
Make no mistake, that’s true of the US too.
The Home Office has launched a strategy to help tackle slavery.
It said the victims included people trafficked from more than 100 countries – the most prevalent being Albania, Nigeria, Vietnam and Romania – as well as British-born adults and children.
Modern slavery minister Karen Bradley told the BBC she was not surprised by the figures.
She said: “This is very much a hidden crime and the important thing is that we get it out in the open. If we compare where we were 200 years ago, the anti-slavery campaigners there had to make people acknowledge that slavery was wrong.
“What we have to do today is not make people acknowledge it’s wrong – everybody knows it’s wrong – but we have to find it.
“It’s a hidden crime, it’s going on in streets, in towns, in villages across Britain and we need to help people find the signs of it so we can find those victims and importantly then find the perpetrators.”
But another piece is not deporting people after freeing them from slavery. The threat of deportation is what gives the enslavers their power.
Aidan McQuade, director of charity Anti-Slavery International, said the Home Office’s figures “sounded about right” but questioned whether the government’s strategy went far enough.
He told the BBC : “If you leave an employment relationship, even if you’re suffering from any sort of exploitation up to and including forced labour, even if you’re suffering from all sorts of physical and sexual violence, you’ll be deported.
“So that gives an enormous power in the hands of unscrupulous employers. And frankly the protections which the government has put in place are not worth the paper they’re written on in order to prevent this sort of exploitation once they’ve given employers that sort of power.”
But then if you gave immunity to deportation to former slaves that would create an incentive to be (temporarily) enslaved. I’m glad I don’t have to figure out how to solve this problem.