Most people are trafficked into the UK legally but become subject to forced labour through enforced debt, intimidation, the removal of documents or an inadequate understanding of their rights, a report says today.
The study, produced by the University of Hull and Anti-Slavery International for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation www.jrf.org.uk, is the first comprehensive review of slavery in the UK.
The report claims that UK governments have addressed trafficking as an issue of migration control rather than one of human rights. It adds that current protection and support services for trafficked people are inadequate and that statutory services are often unsure of how to assist trafficked migrant workers.
It adds that some UK-based companies, knowingly or not, rely on people to produce goods who work in slavery as part of complex sub-contracting and supply chains managed by agents. The complexity often obscures the involvement of slave labour.
“Our research indicates that the needs of victims seem to have been secondary to government policy; one interviewee commented that although the police see trafficked people as victims, the immigration service sees them as illegal entrants,” said Aidan McQuade, report co-author and director of Anti-Slavery International.