When hearing the word ‘slavery’ many people’s minds may understandably turn to the Atlantic slave trade abolished two centuries ago.
The reality, however, is that modern slavery is an evil injustice which goes on in our world today.
Estimates suggest that last year alone, there were over 40 million people across the world living in slavery. It is difficult to comprehend.
The Crime, Safeguarding & Vulnerability Minister, Sarah Newton, told me ahead of Anti-Slavery Day last Wednesday that it is thought that there were between 10,000 and 13,000 potential victims in the UK in 2013.
This requires a global response and the Prime Minister is taking a lead on the world stage. In September, Theresa May hosted an event on tackling modern slavery at the United Nations, and told world leaders of the importance in defeating it at the UN General Assembly.
As the Prime Minister said, behind these numbers are real people suffering terrible abuse; if we are to meet the ambition of ending forced labour, modern slavery and human trafficking by 2030, we know we have a long way to go.
Earlier this month, three people were found guilty of trafficking vulnerable women for prostitution at hotels near Gatwick Airport. It is their 19 victims who are in my thoughts.
The Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne, is working with Sussex Police to develop a response which will not only support victims, but to also hit the gangs who perpetrate such abhorrent crime.
The Modern Slavery Act 2015 includes a landmark ‘transparency in supply chains’ provision. This requires businesses operating in the UK with a global turnover of £36 million or more to publish an annual statement which outlines the work they are doing to prevent modern slavery. This enables consumers, investors, campaigners and others to scrutinise business activity and call for more action where necessary.
For more information, or to report a case of modern slavery, please visit: www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/report or call the helpline: 0800 0121 700.
Henry Smith MP