Today (18th October) is UK Anti-Slavery Day – an opportunity to raise awareness of modern slavery and the role we can all play in addressing this abhorrent crime. The South Yorkshire Modern Slavery Partnership (SYMSP) is working with its partners across the county to ensure the most vulnerable in our society are protected – a task that will only be more challenging due to the current pandemic.
It is a sad fact that adults and children are being exploited across the UK. Criminals prey upon people who they think they can control using tactics such as threats of violence, debt and coercion to keep their victims in situations of exploitation. Drawing on shared experience and knowledge, SYMSP is concerned about the potential impacts of Covid-19 on Modern Slavery. A reduction in face to face services, closures of businesses and added pressure on people’s finances may keep people in precarious and even exploitative work. The expected consequences means the need for collaboration across the county is even more vital.
In the UK, the term modern slavery refers to slavery, servitude, forced or compulsory labour and human trafficking – in simple terms when a person in exploited by other often for financial gain. It is an abhorrent crime affecting thousands of people across the UK. It is difficult to know how many people are in situations of exploitation, but according to a recent report ‘It Still Happens Here’, which used national police data, there are an estimated 100,000 people in situations of modern slavery.
The South Yorkshire Modern Slavery Partnership (SYMSP), is funded by the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner Dr Alan Billings, to bring together statutory, charitable and business partners to ensure: South Yorkshire is a place of safety for survivors, a hostile region for those who exploit others, and a leading influence on national priorities relating to Modern Slavery.
Fantastic work has taken place in the county to raise awareness with those who may encounter potential victims and ensure survivors receive the support they need. Collaborations such as the ‘Bags of Hope’ led by the Clewer Initiative and Diocese of Sheffield Mothers’ Union has supported South Yorkshire Police to provide essential items to those escaping situations of modern slavery.
If you are concerned about someone and need advice or want to report an incident, contact the Police on 101, or 999 if someone is in immediate danger. You can also call the Modern Slavery Helpline anonymously on 08000 121 700 or report it online at www.modernslaveryhelpline.org/report.