08:14 GMT23 January 2021
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    Modern Day Slavery in the UK

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    The anti-slavery campaign group ‘Walk Free’ says there are 36 million people, 0.5% of the total global population living in slavery. This is up from 21 million people in 2012. But that’s alright, because we’re talking about people over there somehow; in developing countries. But slavery in developed countries is increasing.

    Steven Marshall, a retired British Metropolitan Police senior officer with extensive experience dealing with victims and perpetrators of modern slavery joins the program. After he retired, Steven researched male forced labour in the United Kingdom and as part of his research; he interviewed both government agencies and support organizations, and has presented his research at human trafficking conferences.

    Steven starts the program by explain how complex an issue modern slavery is. "It takes a number of different forms, it encompasses servitude, forced and compulsory labour, human trafficking for the sex industry, and also criminality. Especially in the UK we see people being used not only in the sex industry but as minders in cannabis farms, and to work in the agricultural, fisheries and construction industries. It is very complex, it involves people coming into the UK and it involves organized crime."

    Steven talks about the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act which came into force in 2015, as an example of the huge amount of work that has been carried out in the UK to help solve this problem. "This was, and possibly still is one of the only pieces of legislation throughout western Europe and I dare say further afield, that actually brings together all these different aspects, and puts the onus very much on the security services, the local authorities, the voluntary sector, and support agencies, to work together to try to identify areas of slavery within their areas."

    The new legislation in the UK seems to be helping to show the full extent of slavery; something that both the public and the government were perhaps not fully aware of before. It is also an attempt, Steven explains, to bring all the different UK agencies together. Coordination and cooperation is essential, Steven explained, because of the very many different faces that slavery takes in the UK today.

    Steven feels that raising public awareness is crucial in the battle against slavery in the UK. "The big issue is getting the message out, not only to the public who have to report cases of slavery to the agencies, but to the agencies themselves, who need to understand that many people who are being exploited need help in overcoming the psychological barriers which prevent them from reaching out for help." Host John Harrison suggests that getting the message out is not easy as slavery is a problem which can only be solved over long periods of time and by adopting a consistent approach, whereas the media is usually interested in short term sensationalism.

    A discussion is held in regard to the effect of Brexit on slavery in the UK, as Brexit will eventually mean the UK withdrawing from the European Court of Human Rights. Steven says, however, that it is too early to say what the effect will be. "From my experience, dealing with police services in Europe and around the world, we always find a way and a means to continue to gather and share information… there is an international interest here which is supported by the United Nations and other organizations across the world."

    The problem, Steven explains is that the British public doesn't seem to differentiate between what people negatively call illegal immigrants, and genuine refugees, who are real victims of crime. "Sometimes they come in thinking they are going to a better life, and then they quickly find out they are right into exploitation and slavery. So it is all very difficult, because of the speed of change in culture in the UK."

    Slavery in the UK is not only about migrants, it is also about an increasing number of British citizens who end up in slavery. "My research was initially into the situation with male slaves. What seems to be the cause is that a lot of vulnerable men, people who are alcohol/drug defendant basically fall between the cracks in society are actively targeted by gang masters… a lot of these guys, being dependent on drugs and alcohol still see that type of existence as better than their original circumstances."

    In short this problem is incredible complex and should be treated perhaps far more seriously than we do at the present time, in all of our OWN societies.

    We'd love to get your feedback at radio@sputniknews.com

    workers' rights, Human Rights, modern slavery, Britain
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