Intelligence has been gathered from the transport, food, agriculture, construction, manufacturing industries — plus nail bars, car washes, shellfish gathering and cleaning; the findings are described as "horrific" by Kevin Hyland, the UK's Anti Slavery Commissioner.
Data reveals men from ethnic Roma communities are most likely involved in criminal activities, with the UK and France described as the main destination for trafficked Romanian children.
Victims from Vietnam have been linked to nail bars, shellfish gathering, cannabis cultivation and prostitution, meanwhile Romanian workers are linked to car washes and food processing.
The report, 'The Nature and Scale of Labour Exploitation Across All Sectors Within the United Kingdom' is published by the government's Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority.
The living conditions of car wash workers can be deadly. In 2015, A Romanian man died after being electrocuted in a shower in a rat-infested flat behind a car wash. No one should have to live in these conditions 😢 #modernslavery— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
Extend of slavery and exploitation laid bare in horrifying report https://t.co/sesJxb5mzh— Kevin Hyland OBE (@UKAntiSlavery) May 8, 2018
In the 12 months until March 2017, police in England and Wales recorded 2,255 #modernslavery offences, far lower than the estimated picture. This means many potential victims remain unidentified and vulnerable— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
Victims of labour exploitation are most commonly Vietnamese, Albanian and British — with British victims increasing by 362% #modernslavery— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
"The sad reality is that the criminality that drives exploitation and slavery is quite close to home in the towns, cities and countryside in which we live and work," Roger Bannister, interim chief executive of GLAA said in a statement.
Let’s start with an overview. The UK is one of the main destinations of trafficked workers in Europe, with labour exploitation being the most common form of exploitation for both adults and children. Thought slavery was in the past? Think again #modernslavery pic.twitter.com/tXTkj5Pcsl— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
"The barbaric nature of modern slavery means it destroys the lives of its victims, which is why we introduced the world-leading Modern Slavery Act 2015 and increased the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority funding by £2.6 million a year to tackle modern slavery and wider labour exploitation." Victoria Atkins, Minister for Crime, Safeguarding and Vulnerability said in a statement.
Did you know that some nail bars are a haven for forced labour? Vietnamese victims are particularly susceptible. If you’re getting a cheap manicure and some of these signs are present, you may be witnessing – and funding — labour exploitation #modernslavery pic.twitter.com/pM2tVe0t52— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
In contrast to data from the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) which suggests Vietnamese, British and Albanian were the most common nationalities exploited for work, the GLAA finds exploitation of Romanian workers is most frequently reported. Forced labor accounts for a third of all exploitation, the majority of victims are from Eastern Europe.
Social media is being used to recruit people, victims arrive in the UK ready to work for a job that doesn't exist. "Social media, particularly Facebook, is being used for job advertising, with introductions being made between victim and exploiter using this method," the report says.
Victims are discovering websites promising people jobs without the need to speak English by typing in "work in England" but these jobs often don't exist and Skype, FaceTime and online messenger services are used as a platform to strike up relationships with potential victims and perpetrators.
Within western and southern Europe, the most frequently detected form of exploitation is sexual exploitation #modernslavery— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
Minibus and coach services provide routes from Lithuania, Romania and Bulgaria, often costing US$202 (£150) per person each way, the ticket paid by the exploiter, leaving the victim in debt before they even arrive, according to the report.
Intelligence gathered by the GLAA also reveals non EU nationals have been brought to the UK for no other reason but to use them for slave labor by exploiting immigration controls (including the Common Travel Area) and visa systems. Some may have paid smugglers money to get to the UK, unaware they would be forced to work as a slave once they arrived.
According to data from the European Migrant Smuggling Centre, 17,500 migrants were suspected of being smuggled into the UK in 2016.
New banking systems have also been highlighted as a threat. "There are reports of workers being paid by 'E-Card' where funds are accessed via log-in details sent by email. There are known occasions where the email addresses are controlled by the exploiter." The report states.
A new banking system called "Pockit" has been highlighted by the GLAA for being used in this way.
The UK construction sector employs approximately three million people and is a high risk industry for labor exploitation. The supply chains in the industry make spotting exploitation extremely difficult. Workers live in caravans in conditions frequently described as inhumane, unsafe and overcrowded and receive as little as US$ 6 — 12 (£5 —£10) a day.
Ever heard of debt bondage? It’s where someone is forced to work to pay off debts they have no control over. Their wages and bank accounts are often controlled by the exploiter, who pays the workers’ costs, then withdraws their wages until their ‘debt’ is paid #modernslavery pic.twitter.com/a32C1JI1jE— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018
Victims are often kept in the dark about how much they owe and other deductions, like travel, rent and food, may be taken. These debts gain interest and may be impossible to repay, increasing the power and control over victims. Sound fair to you? Nope, us neither #modernslavery pic.twitter.com/2IsKIKe9gl— GLAA (@UK_Glaa) May 8, 2018