Counting The Cost of Child Exploitation

Sophie Blanchard

MA student, Criminology and Crime Control 

Department of Criminology, University of Hull

s.l.blanchard-2017@hull.ac.uk

This blog takes a look at the recent Office for National Statistics (ONS) publication of statistics for child victims of modern slavery in the UK. This is the first publication of its kind by the ONS and draws on data from the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), Police Recorded Crime (PRC), Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), Department for Education’s Children in Need Census (CINC), The Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline, amongst other organisations. This ONS publication seeks to provide a deeper insight into the incidences of child victims of modern slavery in the UK.

There is no one data source that accurately quantifies the number of child victims in the UK. The NRM currently provides the best measure of potential victims, although it is known to be an undercount. In this blog we will look at the different sources that support the ONS publication, identify strengths and weaknesses of this type of data collection and aim to provide a summary of the data within it.

How many potential victims have been identified?

In 2021, 5,468 potential child victims were referred into the NRM. This shows a 9% increase from the previous year when 5,028 potential child victims were referred. The number of potential child victims of modern slavery in the UK has increased every year since the NRM was established in 2009. However, it can be argued that the increased number of potential victims being referred is not just because there are more victims but because there is increasing awareness and training amongst first responders.

Whilst the numbers went up for the NRM, the number of potential child victims of modern slavery identified by the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline decreased drastically. In 2021, the helpline received information about 194 potential child victims of modern slavery, which came from calls, web forms, and app entries. This shows a 43% decrease from the previous year when there were 340 potential victims, although the reasons for this are as yet unclear.

Figure 1: Comparison of PRC and NRM figures, April 2016 – March 2021

YearPolice Recorded Crime child victims of modern slaveryYearNational Referral Mechanism child victims of modern slavery
Apr 2016 to Mar 2017287Jan 2017 to Dec 20172,114
Apr 2017 to Mar 2018679Jan 2018 to Dec 20183,129
Apr 2018 to Mar 20191,327Jan 2019 to Dec 20194,554
Apr 2019 to Mar 20202,547Jan 2020 to Dec 20205,028
Apr 2020 to Mar 20213,239Jan 2021 to Dec 20215,468

When we compare the PRC statistics on child victims of modern slavery and the NRM figures in each 12-month period we observe there is a significant difference (Figure 1). This difference highlights a worrying gap in the amount of identified cases of potential child exploitation and the policing response to investigating these potential crimes.  

What are the ages of the victims?

Figure 2: Age of child victims, 2017-2021

Figure 2 shows the ages of child victims from PRC in England and Wales. The largest age group throughout years 2017 to 2021 are 13- to 16-year-olds. The statistics from April 2018 to March 2019 and April 2019 to March 2020 show the number of victims who were aged 13 to 16 almost doubled.

According to the NRM data for the year ending December 2021, over four-fifths, (82%) of the children who received a positive reasonable grounds decision from the NRM were aged 15 to 17 years old. This could simply be because more 15- to 17-year-olds are referred into the NRM and can be backed up by the PCR graph above which shows 13 to 17-year-olds being the most reported ages.

What are the genders of the victims?

Figure 3: Gender of potential child victims, 2021

According to the Modern Slavery and Exploitation Helpline statistics, the most common gender of the 194 potential child victims of modern slavery reported to the helpline in 2021 were female (32%), even though the category of unknown genders is higher than both male and female victims (Figure 3). In contrast, the NRM 2021 end of year statistics appear to show that there were 4,314 male and 1,145 female potential child victims, a total of 5,459, leaving 9 potential child victims of unknown gender. These two contrasting data sets make it difficult to produce any useful overview of the gender of children who are both identified and referred into the NRM and of those that fall outside the scope of the NRM statistics. The ONS publication does not make specific reference to an overview of gender in this way because of this challenge. This is an obvious weakness of collecting and sharing data from multiple different data sets.

In the NRM, of those children who received a positive reasonable grounds decision in 2021, 79% were male and 21% were female.

What are the nationalities of the victims?

When looking at the NRM statistics for the nationalities of the potential child victims, UK nationals are the most commonly identified at 2,981. The five most common nationalities of child victims reflect the five most common nationalities of adult victims, if in a slightly different order (Figure 4).

Figure 4: The five most common nationalities of potential child victims, 2021

What types of exploitation were reported?

The main types of exploitation which have been reported through all organisations have been criminal exploitation (county lines are a significant factor here, especially for males) and sexual exploitation. In the NRM data set males were most likely to have experienced criminal exploitation (62%) and for females it is sexual exploitation (42%).

The Independent Child Trafficking Guardians service (ICTGS) showed that there were 27% more referrals in 2020 than in the previous year (555 in 2020 from 437 in 2019). From the data on exploitation types from October 2018 to December 2019, 379 males and 134 females were referred to ICTGS with a higher number of males who have been criminally exploited (216) than females (17).

Conclusion

Overall, the data that are used and reported within this publication from the ONS are not directly comparable due to the different time periods and the variable recording measures used by each organisation. Some data are separated and cannot be combined and compared with other statistics – not all jurisdictions of the UK are covered by some of the data sources, for example. However, despite the weaknesses and limitations that this report shows, it is a step in the right direction and does provide a somewhat better understanding of the extent of modern slavery in the UK.

In addition, this publication could serve as a useful foundation for gathering data from a much broader set of sources that lay outside the NRM statistics in the future. This would help to give us a far more accurate picture of how many children are being identified as being at risk of exploitation and not just those exclusively referred into the NRM.

Award in Memory of Paola Monzini

Cristina Talens

Head of Business Risk Assessment Services

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

C.Talens@hull.ac.uk

Paola Monzini ((1965-2017) was an incredibly talented and inspirational woman on many fronts. She was a greatly respected and world acclaimed sociologist who started her working life at the Italian Government’s Anti-Mafia Investigation Directorate (DIA Direzione Investigativa Antimafia).

Her strategic thinking and negotiating skills were recognised at international level and she became one of the leading experts of the Global Programme Against Trafficking in Human Beings at the UN Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) in Italy.She was also one of the main authors of the UN Protocol Against Trafficking and Smuggling of Human Beings, also known as The Palermo Protocol. This regulatory framework was used to develop national legislation across Europe and more recently in the UK through the Modern Slavery Act. During her years at UNICRI, Paola developed and implemented numerous multinational and bilateral intergovernmental projects across Europe, Africa and Asia with the aim of improving cooperation to facilitate police intervention, prosecution of criminals, and especially the protection of victims of trafficking and smuggling. She was a passionate advocate for the human rights of migrants and refugees in Italy. In 2016 she was one of the first researchers to interview Syrian men and women arriving into Italy, trying to identify the mechanics of exploitation for organised criminal networks in an attempt to protect refugees during their journeys to Europe.

As a measure of her intellectual and scientific contribution to the study of organized crime, human trafficking and global migration, an international award has been created in Paola Monzini’s honour by the friends, family and colleagues of this outstanding researcher. The ‘Paola Monzini’s Award’, launched this year in her memory,  will reward the most deserving students and researchers who, over the last 5 years – from 2017 to 2022 – have worked on a Master’s thesis or a PhD thesis on these topics in an Italian university or in a foreign university (languages accepted: Italian and English).

Special appreciation will be given to studies and research in the field of human, historical, political and social sciences that focus on migration, human mobility and citizenship policies, privileging a gender and intersectional perspective primarily via qualitative research methods – such as narrative approach, biographical analysis – with a particular focus on the stories of individuals involved in the subject investigated, including with the support of audio-visual tools. Priority topics will include trafficking in human beings, sex work and other forms of exploitation of migrants in the legal and illegal economy, violence and discrimination against migrant and refugee women, forced migration and migrants’ journeys particularly across the Mediterranean Sea.

Two cash prizes will be awarded as follows: 1.000 Euros for the best Master’s thesis discussed in an Italian or in a foreign university in the last 5 years (starting from the academic year 2017-2018); 2.000 Euros for the best Doctoral thesis (PhD) discussed in an Italian or foreign university in the last 5 years (starting from the academic year 2017-2018). The funds to support the award will be raised through a crowdfunding campaign. Should the funds raised for this award exceed the total amount for the two scholarships, the Scientific Committee reserves the right to either set up a larger number of awards for the current year or to set aside the surplus funds for the awarding of prizes in the following years.

Participants must send their work by 30 July 2022 in PDF format by e-mail to premiopaolamonzini@gmail.com  specifying that the work compete for the ‘Paola Monzini’s Award’. The work, countersigned with the name and surname of the author, must be accompanied by relevant documentation containing the following information:

  • Identification of the author (name and surname, telephone numbers, e-mail) and date;
  • Domicile and number of identity card or passport or other official identification document;
  • Declaration of the original nature of the work submitted, including the specification that the work is not a copy or a total or partial modification of the author’s or other authors’ work;
  • Declaration of the full ownership of the work’s rights;
  • Declaration of acceptance of all the conditions established by the ‘Paola Monzini’s Award’.

The Scientific Committee in charge of assessing the works and awarding the prizes, through its Coordinator, will keep participants informed and will communicate the results of the assessment by e-mail and through updates published on the web page dedicated to Paola Monzini, paolamonzini.tumblr.com, the website and social channels of the association AMM – Archivio delle Memorie Migranti (Archive of Migrants’ Memories) as well as the information channels of the associations and organizations that support this award. The submission of the work in itself guarantees the commitment of the author not to withdraw it from the competition.

The recipients of the award will be decided by the Scientific Committee. The winners will be announced and the prizes awarded at a public ceremony to be held by 30 October 2022.

Scientific Committee:

Monica Massari (University of Milan)

Coordinator, Paula Adam (Agència de Qualitat i Avaluació Sanitàries de Catalunya)

Teresa Albano (Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe-OSCE)

Luca Ciabarri (Escapes-University of Milan)

Rino Coluccello (Coventry University)

Nando dalla Chiesa (University of Milan)

Gianluca Gatta (AMM – Archive of Migrants’ Memories)

Ombretta Ingrascì (University of Milan)

Giovanni Melillo (National Anti-Mafia and Counter-terrorism Directorate-DNAA)

Petra Mezzetti (Fondazione Empatia Milano-FEM)

Letizia Paoli (University of Leuven)

Ferruccio Pastore (Forum Internazionale ed Europeo di Ricerche sull’Immigrazione-FIERI. International Forum for International and European Research on Migration-FIERI)

Vincenzo Ruggiero (Middlesex University)

Emilio Santoro (University of Florence)

Giulio Sapelli (University of Milan)

Rocco Sciarrone (University of Turin)

Cristina Talens (University of Hull)

REF 2021: WE GOT A 4*!

After a longer than usual wait, the results of the Research Exercise Framework 2021, otherwise known as REF 2021, have finally been made public, and we at the Wilberforce Institute are very proud of our success. We got a 4* rating, the highest level possible, for our impact case study, ‘The Wilberforce Legacy: Using historical and contemporary research to meet the challenge of Modern Slavery’.

For those of you who don’t know, the purposes of REF 2021 were threefold:

  • To provide accountability for public investment in research and produce evidence of the benefits of this investment.
  • To provide benchmarking information and establish reputational yardsticks, for use within the HE sector and for public information.
  • To inform the selective allocation of funding for research. 

In short, the government uses the REF exercise to determine how much research funding each higher education institution will receive each year: the four UK higher education funding bodies use it to inform the allocation of circa £2 billion in public funding invested in research annually. The key facts about the REF are available here.

As a format the REF was last used to assess the quality of research in higher education institutions in 2014, so it’s been seven years since any assessment of this kind has been undertaken.  The Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), a similar exercise which the REF replaced, had from its inception in 1986, taken place approximately once every five years. It had been introduced that year by Margaret Thatcher’s government to determine the amount of funding that was to be allocated to individual UK Universities at a time of tight budgetary restrictions.  A number of changes to the way in which research is assessed have been made over the years. This included the introduction in 2008 of a four-point quality rating scale, rising from 1* for ‘Quality that is recognised nationally in terms of originality, significance and rigour’, to the much sought after 4*: ‘Quality that is world-leading in terms of originality, significance and rigour’.

The REF involved a process of expert review, carried out by expert panels for 34 subject-based units of assessment (UOAs), under the guidance of four main panels. These expert panels consisted of senior academics, international members, and research users

Assessors had to review research from three distinct perspectives:

  • the quality of the outputs (e.g. publications, performances, and exhibitions)
  • their impact beyond academia, and
  • the quality of the environment that is provided to support research. 

Significantly, the REF was the first exercise to assess the impact of research outside the higher education sector itself. Impact was defined as ‘an effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia’. This idea has rightly continued to gain traction: following on from a review of the effectiveness of REF 2014, more emphasis was placed in the 2021 round on the importance of impact. There was also a call for interdisciplinary collaborations to be more widely rewarded.

Both of these metrics play to the strengths of the Wilberforce Institute. First we are by design an interdisciplinary research institute, bringing together history, social science, heritage and law, as we seek to use an understanding of the past to inform our approach to the present. We also employ practitioners who work on issues around social auditing, on raising awareness of modern slavery, and on taking action to prevent it. This means that our interdisciplinary research can have a direct impact.

Despite our small team of people, the 4* rating of our impact case study revealed just how successful our efforts had been in the period covered by the REF exercise, 2014-2020. The study focused on two particular areas of success. The first concerned the quantification of slavery. The Institute had taken a key role in developing the metrics for the Global Slavery Index (GSI), which provided the first comprehensive and accessible measure of the extent of modern slavery in 167 countries around the world.

Aimed at informing practitioners and policymakers, the GSI was disseminated around the world, and has been used by governments, researchers, NGOs and charities to support the liberation of slaves and their reintegration into society. In addition, Professor Kevin Bales, lead author of the 2014 GSI, built on its success to develop (in collaboration with the Chief Scientific Officer at the Home Office) a new methodology for calculating modern slavery in the Britain. The Multiple Systems Estimation (MSE) framework resulted in a radical reassessment by the UK Government of the number of people enslaved in Britain. That number – of between 10,000 and 13,000 men, women and children – was roughly four times the figure produced by the National Crime Agency’s Human Trafficking Centre in 2013. Taken together, the GSI and the MSE transformed our understanding of the prevalence of modern slavery in the UK. In doing so, it provided the impetus for a new British Government Modern Slavery Strategy and Bill, and paved the way for the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act in 2015.

The second area of success concerned anti-slavery opinion building. Professor John Oldfield,  now Associate and Emeritus Professor of the Wilberforce Institute, was instrumental in developing the concept of an antislavery ‘usable past’ that demonstrated a continuous link between the past and the present, through what can be described as an active ‘protest memory’. He used these ideas to develop two Arts and Humanities Research Council funded projects, the web resource Stolen Lives and The Antislavery Usable Past. Together, the Institute’s interdisciplinary team developed new methods of presenting and disseminating information by juxtaposing the experiences of enslaved people from the eighteenth to twenty-first centuries in an easy to access format.  Between 2015 and 2021, the Stolen Lives website had 34,000 pageviews and 8,185 views of the ‘Repairing Broken Lives’ video resources.

Alongside Stolen Lives (2015) and the Antislavery Usable Past project (2019), the Institute designed and delivered a number of public campaigns to raise awareness of historical and modern slavery, using music, film, teaching aids, exhibitions and web resources.  These included the #HiddenInPlainSight campaign (launched in November 2016, which placed ‘human packaging’ at high-footfall locations), and the #BreakTheChain campaign (launched in London in 2018, using a ‘human vending machine’), which drew attention to the 25 million people trapped in forced labour around the world.

These opinion-building initiatives have been adopted by many key stakeholders and have directly informed national public broadcasting campaigns. Stolen Lives, for example, has raised awareness of slavery at over 60 different public events and its educational materials have been used in schools across the UK. This resource has also had international impact, most notably in Sierra Leone, West Africa, where it proved the inspiration for an exhibition on modern slavery at the National Museum of Sierra Leone in 2017, the first of its kind. Subsequently, the British Council in Sierra Leone, working in collaboration with the Institute, arranged for the translation of songs from Stolen Lives into local languages and used them as resources in its ‘Connecting Classrooms’ programme. To date this has reached over 30,000 students and helped to raise awareness of modern slavery in Sierra Leone. Finally, and importantly, the work of the Institute was shared with local schools and communities in the Humber region. Performances from Stolen Lives have also been held at Hull’s Freedom Festival which attracts audiences of over 130,000.

Academic research is always of its time, and the numbers estimated in the GSI and MSE were very soon out of date. Some of these numbers were included in the Stolen Lives project, so that here too, there is information that is no longer current. But other elements of Stolen Lives continue to have relevance. Reflecting recently on the impact of Stolen Lives seven years on, Professor Oldfield noted that although he would do some things differently now, much of the content in the collection remains as impactful as it did at its creation. You can of course judge for yourselves by visiting the website.

Professor Oldfield reflecting on the impact of Stolen Lives during the recent workshop, ‘Strategies for encouraging children and young people to engage with human rights’, held at the Wilberforce Institute on Thursday May 12, 2022.

Receiving a 4* rating for our impact case study ‘The Wilberforce Legacy: Using historical and contemporary research to meet the challenge of Modern Slavery’, is hugely satisfying, not least because it reveals to us that we can make a difference. But it also reminds us that there is always more to understand about the nature of slavery and exploitation, in the past and the present. Our success in REF 2021 will help us to continue that research. 

We don’t know enough to effectively protect those who experience criminal exploitation

Dr Alicia Kidd

Lecturer in Modern Slavery

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

A.Kidd@hull.ac.uk

In this blog, produced for the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre [PEC], Dr Kidd looks at the defence for those who face criminal liability as a result of modern slavery under Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act 2015.

What do we know about how we protect those who experience criminal exploitation from further harm? People forced into criminal exploitation by their traffickers should be protected from the further harm of being charged for crimes they had no choice but to commit. The UK Modern Slavery Act offers protection for such cases, however, we don’t know if it’s doing its job effectively.

Criminal exploitation is a growing problem. In the UK in 2021, 6,100 people were identified as potential victims of criminal exploitation, 4,155 of whom had experienced only this form of exploitation (figures are collated from the data tables accessible via the End of Year Summary). This accounts for 48% of all potential cases of modern slavery identified in that year.

People who experience criminal exploitation inhabit an unusual position of being both a victim of modern slavery and a perpetrator of the crimes they were made to commit. This means that there can be confusion amongst professionals around how to best respond to such situations.

Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act offers a statutory defence for those who face criminal liability for a criminal act that they committed as a consequence of their modern slavery or human trafficking experience. It was designed to reassure people that they could give evidence without fear of being convicted for offences they had committed as part of their exploitation.

For people aged 18 or over, the Act states that a person is not guilty of an offence if they were compelled to commit it, if that compulsion is attributable to their exploitative situation, and if a reasonable person in the same situation with relevant characteristics would have no realistic alternative to committing it. Children are not guilty if the criminal act was a direct consequence of their exploitation and a reasonable person in the same situation with relevant characteristics would have also committed the act.

However, even seven years after the implementation of Section 45 with the Modern Slavery Act of 2015, it is difficult to gather an accurate picture of how the defence is understood and used in practice. The Modern Slavery PEC and the Wilberforce Institute are publishing a review of how this defence has been used so far

Our review has shown that, to date, there is very limited information available on the use of Section 45. There have been two independent reviews of the Modern Slavery Act which make reference to Section 45, and one report from the Office of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner which was based on a call for evidence about Section 45 specifically. However, there is a lack of information regarding the commissioning process and methodologies of these reports.

Further, no quantitative data is collected on the use of Section 45, academic involvement in the reviews has been limited, and no one with lived experience was consulted for the reviews. These factors combined mean that producing accurate insights and robust generalisations about how Section 45 is used is impossible. We can’t currently generate a true picture of who is using the defence, what crimes they are using it for, or identify and rectify any barriers to success.

There is also a lack of legal clarity regarding how closely the offence should be connected to the modern slavery experience for the defence to be justified, with no clear definition offered within the Modern Slavery Act. Case law continues to develop and challenge how the defence should be implemented in practice. However, without adequate and consistent training for professionals, those who experience criminal exploitation could have truly differing experiences of using the defence, based entirely on the levels of knowledge that the lawyers and judges associated with their cases have on modern slavery and Section 45.

If used suitably, the statutory defence holds real potential to be able to support victims of modern slavery without punishing them for crimes they had no choice but to commit. However, much remains to be done to make sure that becomes a reality.

Based on available evidence, in order to improve both the use and understanding of Section 45 of the Modern Slavery Act, reviews of the legislation should offer clarity regarding the commissioning process and methodologies used, so that the reviews can accurately be recreated for future comparisons. They should also incorporate insights from academics working in relevant fields, and always seek the input of people with lived experience.

We need more data to be able to make informed decisions about improving Section 45. As a priority, the Government needs to collect quantitative data on the use and outcomes of the defence in order to understand the types of cases in which it is used, barriers to success, and how it might be vulnerable to misuse.

Finally, it’s clear that adequate training for police, lawyers and the judiciary is fundamental if Section 45 is to be used in the way it was intended: to serve the best interests of victims of modern slavery. This training should include insights into potential bias based on notions of the ‘ideal’ victim, so that people who were forced to commit crimes as a result of slavery or trafficking can be fully protected from further harm.

ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery: Justice Hub Our First Six Months

Andrew Smith

Manager of the Justice Hub and Coordinator of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership

A.Smith9@hull.ac.uk

Introduction

The ACTion to Combat Modern Slavery Justice Hub is a Wilberforce Institute and University of Hull Alumni funded project that seeks to combat modern slavery by using research and knowledge exchange to engage and empower people to create a culture of change for good. Launched in October 2021 with my appointment as project manager Its mission is to use knowledge exchange, education and research to raise awareness of, and compliance with, the Modern Slavery Act 2015, ensuring it is better understood and enforced by those who have a statutory, legal or moral duty under its provisions. On Monday 28th March we published a special edition of the Wilberforce Institute Modern Slavery Newsletter to mark the anniversary of the Modern Slavery Act which became law on 26th March 2015. You can view the newsletter online here: https://universityofhullec.newsweaver.com/eo4xlasxr1/16j2gri0ubh

Our first six months

Initial work started immediately on formulating a plan to develop our online e-learning CPD modules on key provisions of the Act that will be available to a range of statutory and non-statutory stakeholders. Working with Lampada we have made good progress in putting together a template of the first three modules which comprise an introductory module, a legal enforcement module and a transparency in supply chains module. We have applied for £50,000 HEIF funding to pay for these first three modules and associated costs. Content for these modules has been written and we are commencing the build stage with a view for the first module to be ready by June to showcase at our next big event in Birmingham on 30th June 2022, and will offer a deeper insight into slavery and trafficking responses for law professionals and social care staff. The event will include a plenary session on victimology, a CPD session with guest DC Colin Ward from the Manchester Police, Op Challenger task force, then finish with an expert panel that will discuss with our audience how we connect stakeholders to improve responses and how victims navigate the criminal justice system.

On the 16th of October we held our very first A21 walk for freedom in partnership with the Freedom Festival in Hull. The A21 walk for freedom is a global movement of peaceful campaign walks to highlight slavery and engage the public. We used this event as a public launch of the Justice Hub in Hull. The event was well attended by over 30 staff, students and members of the public who walked a pre-planned route around famous Hull landmarks talking to the public about the issue of slavery today (www.A21.org).

A21 Walk for Freedom October 2021. Pictured in Queen’s Gardens, Hull

Our second opportunity to launch the Justice Hub came internally at the University’s knowledge exchange conference in November. Here we used the stage to introduce the Hub to our colleagues and discuss the importance of using knowledge exchange to improve responses to modern slavery and the application of the law that empowers and supports victims. We also used this opportunity to highlight the benefits of connectedness and people power in fighting for social justice. From this conference we have made multiple valuable connections within the University which has resulted in us being able to deliver a significant amount of training to many disciplines.

In our first six months we have delivered sessions on the Modern Slavery Act, globalisation and ethical trading, criminal exploitation, and social justice to

• Child nursing students

• Mental health nursing students

• Business and law students

• English students

• Education students

External to the University we have been working closely with Hull City Council on implementing a new pathway and policy for their housing department and specific training on the Act, how it applies in practice, and how to refer potential victims into the National Referral Mechanism [NRM]. Staying with Hull City Council, we are an integral part of their response to child criminal exploitation and a key panel member of their NRM child devolved decision-making panel as an expert advisor and decision maker. As part of this work, we have delivered dedicated training to child social care workers, youth justice workers and health care workers on referring and supporting child victims. Since October we have collaborated to train over 300 Hull City Council professionals. The current child devolved NRM decision-making pilot in Hull has been extended for another 12 months by the Home Office which is welcome news for professionals working to safeguard young people. As part of this extension Hull City Council has been given a budget for further training and we have been approached to help deliver this. Finally, as well as Hull City Council and University students, we have delivered a wide array of training and workshops to community groups, faith groups, youth justice and Crown Prosecution Services staff, and taken part in a national safeguarding week to deliver sessions to members of the public.

Aside from our direct training and CPD efforts we are also keen to utilise different methods of media to communicate modern slavery knowledge and grow/diversify our audiences. As such we have just aired the first of a new 7-part podcast series that takes a look at key provisions of the Modern Slavery Act. This first podcast introduces the Wilberforce Institute and the Justice Hub, gives an overview of the Act and an outline of the provisions we will be covering in subsequent episodes. You can listen to our first podcast here: https://youtu.be/wJ8Rlue6ck4

In May we will be recording a very special podcast interview on tackling difficult subjects with children with Wilberforce MA alumnus Channon Oyeniran, author of The Time Travel Adventures of Ara. In this her debut book, Channon brings Black History to life in a magical way. What starts as a simple journey turns into an extraordinary one through a series of mysterious events that finds Ara transported over a century back in time. What follows is a thrilling adventure and a mission to set enslaved people free (https://adventuresofara.com/).

In addition, we have recently become a member of the UK Modern Slavery Training and Development Group. This national group comprises leading anti-slavery sector organisations who come together to work on identifying national gaps in training and brings specialist knowledge together to deliver solutions. I believe this to be a positive move for the Justice Hub that will allow us to influence UK training needs and the use of specialist knowledge to impact practice through legislation and policy.

To conclude

Finally, I am extremely pleased to be able to say that in our first 6 months of operation we have trained a total of 682 people internal and external to the University. I hope you will agree this is a fantastic way to kick off this wonderful project. It reinforces the appetite we know exists among audiences and stakeholders to improve their knowledge so they may provide better services and create lasting social change.

Victims of Modern Slavery in the UK 2021

Sophie Blanchard

MA student, Criminology and Crime Control 

Department of Criminology, University of Hull

s.l.blanchard-2017@hull.ac.uk

Sophie Blanchard is an MA student on the Criminal Justice and Crime Control course at the University of Hull. Her research focuses on the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) and her MA dissertation project looks at the effectiveness of the NRM in identifying and protecting potential victims of modern slavery.  In this blog she summarises the 2021 Home Office Report on the NRM.

New statistics have been released, summarising information on people who have been identified as potential victims of modern slavery in the UK in 2021. The statistical bulletin provides a breakdown of the number of potential victims that were referred into the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) or via the Duty to Notify process. It breaks down the data in a number of ways, including via the ages of the potential victims, as well as their nationalities, gender, and type of exploitation they experienced.

The NRM, which was set up in 2009, is the governmental framework used in the UK to identify and support potential victims of modern slavery who have been identified by a set list of First Responders. The Duty to Notify process collects data on adults who do not consent to be referred to the NRM (children are not required to give consent). Combined, these figures give an estimate of the picture of modern slavery in the UK.

The term ‘potential victims’ is used to denote that these are the figures relating to individuals referred into the NRM, or via the Duty to Notify process. These figures are likely to be significantly lower once individuals have been through the NRM’s two-tier decision making process to determine that, on the balance of probabilities, a competent authority believes them to meet the definition of being victims of modern slavery.

How many people have been identified?

In 2021, 12,727 potential victims of modern slavery in the UK were referred to the Home Office, which represents a 20% increase compared to the 10,601 potential victims referred in 2020. The number of potential victims of modern slavery in the UK has been increasing each year since 2014, apart from a slight decrease in 2020, commonly noted to be a result of the national lockdowns in response to the Covid-19 pandemic:

YearNumber of Referrals
20142,340
20153,266
20163,805
20175,145
20186,993
201910,627
202010,601
202112,727

The number of referrals received in 2021 has been the highest since the NRM began in 2009. However, the increase in referrals does not necessarily correlate with there being more victims, but could indicate that First Responders are improving at identifying potential victims. Reports via the Duty to Notify process alone have increased by 47% from 2020 with 3,190 reports of potential victims, which indicates a better awareness of this system amongst professionals.

Are the victims adults or children?

Of the potential victims identified, 848 (7%) were of unknown age, 6,411 (50%) were adults, which has increased from 48% in 2020, and 5,468 (43%) were children (minors, under the age of 18). After October 2019, when criminal exploitation was set as its own category of exploitation (where previously it was counted within labour exploitation) which made it easier to identify different types of exploitation that potential victims were being subjected to, referrals indicated that labour exploitation was the most common form of exploitation suffered by adults, while minors (under 18) were more likely to be victims of criminal exploitation. This year’s statistics continue this trend, with these still being the most common forms of exploitation for adult and child victims of modern slavery. In 2021, labour exploitation was the most reported form of exploitation amongst adult potential victims at 33%; 2,141 victims. The most referred exploitation for child potential victims was criminal exploitation at 49%; 2,689 cases.

What gender are the victims?

Of those 12,727 identified in 2021, 9,790 (77%) were male and 2,923 (23%) were female. The remaining 14 are categorised under ‘Not specified or unknown’ or ‘Other’. The statistics of genders of victims are similar to the previous years, but male potential victims have been increasing in referrals over the years. In 2021, 75% of adult potential victims (4,812) and 79% of child potential victims (4,314) were male, whilst 25% of adult potential victims (1,594) and 21% of child potential victims (1,145) were female. The majority of female potential victims, both adults and children, were victims of sexual exploitation.

What are the nationalities of the victims?

The most common nationalities of potential victims identified in the UK in 2021 were UK, Albanian and Vietnamese nationals respectively. UK nationals accounted for 3,952 (31%) of potential victims which decreased slightly from the previous year of 34% in 2020. Albanian nationals were the second most referred nationality with 2,511 (20%) which increased from 15% in 2020, and the third was Vietnamese with 991 (8%). Eritrean also had a notable increase in referrals in 2021, which increased from 395 (3%) in 2020, to 712 (6%) in 2021.

What types of exploitation have the victims experienced?

The data tables which provide the breakdown of information on referrals include a summary of the types of exploitation suffered by those identified as potential victims. These include criminal exploitation, labour exploitation, sexual exploitation, domestic servitude and organ harvesting. The data summarises the number of referrals for each category of exploitation, including where multiple forms of exploitation were experienced. Looking at cases where only one form of exploitation was experienced, the most common form of exploitation identified in 2021 was criminal exploitation with 4,155 referrals. This has increased since becoming classed as a separate form of exploitation in October 2019, before which it was categorised within labour exploitation, making it harder to identify as a distinct form of exploitation. Labour exploitation made up 3,127 of the referrals in 2021 and sexual exploitation made up 1,266 referrals. However, a concerningly large number of referrals, 1,046 cases, were referred under ‘unknown or not specified’ exploitation which raises concerns over the level of detail provided within the referral forms.

The findings of the 2021 report make for difficult reading. If you have any questions, please contact Sophie at the email address above.

The Professor Surya Subedi Global Essay Prize

Professor Surya Subedi QC, OBE, DCL, DPhil (Oxford), Barrister

Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds

On 22 February, 2022, the University of Hull and the Wilberforce Institute launched the Professor Surya Subedi Global Essay Prize on Modern Slavery or the Protection of Human Dignity. This prize of £500 will be awarded annually by the Wilberforce Institute for the best original essay in English on the abolition of any form of modern slavery or the protection of human dignity anywhere in the world. The Prize will be awarded for the first time in March 2023. 

“Professor Subedi is a world-renowned scholar and a champion of human rights. Through his work as a barrister, and numerous high-level positions in governments and national and international organisations, he works incredibly hard to make a difference to the real life of the people around the world. We are extremely proud to present this prize in Professor Subedi’s honour, to raise awareness of modern slavery at a critical time.”

Professor Trevor Burnard, Director of the Wilberforce Institute.

Professor Subedi has published widely on a raft of issues related to human rights and international law, and he has managed to combine this with more practical work in public international law throughout his career. From 2009 to 2015 he was the UN Special Rapporteur for human rights in Cambodia and from 2010 to 2015 he served as a member of a high-level Advisory Group on Human Rights to the British Foreign Secretary. He was a government nominee for appointment to the position of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in 2014. He was elected to the Institut de Droit International at its Session in Rhodes in 2011 and made a Membre Titulaire in 2015. IN 2017 he was appointed Queen’s Counsel honoris causa for his contribution to the development of international law and to the advancement of human rights.

There can be very few alumni of the University of Hull who have touched the lives of so many people in such a profound way. Over a long career in the field of International Human Rights Law, Professor Surya Subedi has worked tirelessly to encourage and assist governments to work towards establishing independent judiciaries. He has secured the release of journalists from prisons, facilitated the safe return of exiled opposition leaders, improved prison conditions and modified land concessions to mitigate human rights abuses in Cambodia.

Asked if he felt the weight of Hull’s connection to causes of human rights, liberty and emancipation while he was studying here, Professor Subedi admitted he did, and that he was inspired by the Wilberforce Museum in particular. His gift to the University will ensure that his name is connected in perpetuity with the advancement of study into the causes for which he has worked so passionately.

This Prize has been made possible by a generous donation from Professor Surya P. Subedi, who graduated in law from the University of Hull in 1988 and is currently Professor of International Law at the University of Leeds. Born in Nepal, where he first studied law, and where his interest in international law began, Professor Subedi won a British Council Scholarship (now known as Chevening Scholarship) to study for an LLM in International Law in 1986, and chose Hull because it had a good reputation in international law, and was known to have a ‘beautiful small compact campus and friendly staff’. Interviewed in 2017, Professor Subedi revealed that he had been advised to choose a ‘smaller nice university like Hull’ because there ‘your professors will get to know you better and you will receive the support and guidance that you will need to do well in your studies’.  He certainly made the most of his studies at Hull, gaining a distinction in his LLM, and has never looked back. After a brief return to Nepal, Professor Subedi enrolled in a doctoral programme in Oxford, after which he entered academia.

The competition is open to any graduate in law and social sciences or humanities from around the world regardless of their nationality. The award will focus on enhancing the employability and profile of early-career academics and will therefore be restricted to candidates below the age of 40 at the time of submission. It must be a single-authored essay and the author must state in the submission that they are the sole author, and they own the copyright in the essay. The essay submitted should have a title which is both concise and descriptive and must be accompanied by an abstract of no more than 150 words in 10-point Times New Roman. It must be an academic piece of work with proper citations and must not have already been published. The length of the essay must be between 3000 and 5000 words, including footnotes following any standard format of referencing such as OSCOLA or Harvard style. The submission must be accompanied by a copy of the CV of the candidate.

The essay must be submitted electronically either in Microsoft Word or in PDF format to the following email address: Wilberforceinstitute@hull.ac.uk The deadline for the first round of essays is 31 December 2022 and the prize of £500 will be awarded in March 2023.

The award will be made to the author of the essay that makes the most exciting original contribution to the relevant field of scholarship and is best-crafted in terms of organisation, style and presentation. By submitting the essay, the candidates agree that if their essay is awarded the Prize, they grant the Wilberforce Institute a non-exclusive licence to publish it online or in any other format that it sees fit. The winning essay will be published on the website of the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull, and the Institute may, at its discretion, choose to submit the essay for publication in a physical or online journal or as part of a collated series of prize-winning essays connected to the award.

Mothers with lived experience of modern slavery

Ndiweteko Jennifer Nghishitende

PhD student, Living with the Consequences of Slavery Cluster

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull.

N.J.NGHISHITENDE-2020@hull.ac.uk

When we consider life after modern slavery, we should not only consider survival, but also the prospect of survivors having opportunities to become thriving members of society. My research focuses on women and young persons who have left situations of modern slavery in the UK, and I have recently commenced fieldwork, speaking to women as well as practitioners who support them. I am increasingly becoming aware of the large gap in the manner in which mothers with children are supported, which may severely impact their potential to thrive after exploitation. Many women enter exploitation as mothers, while others emerge out of exploitation pregnant, or with young children, some having their children as a result of the exploitation.

Motherhood

Motherhood requires ‘maternal work’, which comprises daily repetitive tasks towards the raising of children. This ‘maternal work’ is three-pronged in that it encompasses the physical care of children, the emotional and spiritual care of children, and the training of children to be social. This makes motherhood a multidimensional role, in addition to taking care of oneself as an individual. The ‘cultural story’ of motherhood, however, makes mothers out to be strong, independent, and nonthreatening- thus expected to be able to bear almost anything.

Mothers with lived experience of modern slavery seem to be expected to conform to this ‘cultural story’ having to rely mostly on strength to survive. Strength is needed to perform their ‘maternal work’ – physically, spiritually, and emotionally taking care of their children, doing school runs – and during the COVID-19 lockdown, this included home-schooling. This is done in conjunction with moving forward; battling insecure immigration statuses; dealing with insecure, sometimes temporary accommodation; dealing with criminalisation; integrating; working (if allowed and able); dating, or sustaining a marriage; fostering friendships; and so forth.

A suspended future

Women generally consider their children to be their lives, and some mothers find solace in vicariously living through their children by throwing themselves into their upbringing. After all, a mother’s love is ‘supposed’ to know no bounds, and part of her ‘maternal work’ is to protect her child. Because the support available for those who can access it is limited, mothers with lived experience of modern slavery may have to pause or suspend their own lives in favour of those of their children. Some would, for instance, skip their therapy sessions  and other important appointments, but would ensure to take their children to the doctor when needed.

However, children grow up and move out. What happens then? A mother I recently interviewed could not answer me when I asked her about what she wanted the next few years of her life to look like. Her children are her life and soon they will grow up and leave the nest, after which she will be left to deal with her past trauma that was deferred to raise her children.

Work

The benefits of being able to work have been well documented. The inability to work, on the other hand,  has been found to affect individuals negatively, as it can impede social integration and increase destitution, impair confidence, cause loss of skills, accentuate isolation and increase vulnerabilities. Working is important in restoring mental wellbeing and a sense of dignity and self-worth and the provision of a meagre weekly allowance does not address the mental health implications associated with living without work.

Mothers with lived experience of modern slavery express a strong desire to work, but there are various compelling challenges that prevent them from doing so. The issue of work affects mothers differently and it is not simply a matter of having the right to work or the capability. Usually, these mothers are lone parents, and encounter problems surrounding childcare. Some women are British survivors for instance who are unable to work due to insecure childcare. Others may be international survivors with the right to work but face other layers of difficulty in addition to childcare – women may have language barrier problems or long gaps in their resumes that are hard to explain to potential employers because of time spent in exploitation.

In addition to childcare, some mothers are also faced with skills deficits.  Some may have spent many years in terrible working conditions performing unfulfilling tasks that may have stunted their productive abilities. Others may have entered exploitation while they were still children and as such were deprived of the opportunity to gain certain skills. One of the women I interviewed relayed to me that in the quest to obtain skills and thus gainful employment, she would take her babies to class with her, sometimes having to breastfeed during lectures and subsequently having to repeat modules multiple times.

Effects on children

With World Children’s Day commemorated on Saturday, 20 November 2021 (and on 20 November of every year since 1954) to ‘promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children’s welfare’ it is apt to recognise the impact on the children discussed within this context. Children emerging out of exploitation with their mothers are being let down by the system, even though the need to extend particular care to the child has been emphasised in various international and national human rights instruments. Insufficient support for a mother invariably means insufficient support for the child.

Further, some children are affected by their mothers’ experiences. Those with their mothers and are exposed to their mothers’ hardships may face the possibility of stunted growth and development and/or mental health problems. Children are at times forced to grow up too quickly – taking on responsibilities such as taking care of younger siblings and sometimes even suppressing their feelings to protect their mother’s emotions.

Others are affected by being left behind – a significant number of migrant women have children and are usually unable to migrate with them, because of a lack of safe and legal pathways to migrate and other factors. Some then decide to leave their children behind, in the care of relatives, friends, or nannies, although most feel guilt and remorse  for doing so.

While existing studies suggest that the circumstances surrounding each cohort of children left behind are highly variable, some children struggle without their mothers and some may become withdrawn or perform poorly in school.

The way forward

Although I am in the early stages of my data collection, I have found that the journeys of these mothers and those of their children have barely been researched. Data needs to be collected to inform solutions. More needs to be done, to ensure that women and children in this category are given equitable treatment to not only survive but also thrive, given that their background conditions are complicated. As a mother myself, I know that thriving mothers have a better chance of raising thriving children.

Caption: Mother and child photo from Pexels, copyright free.

Human Trafficking Experience: The Lost Victim Voice

Dr Chloe Wilson

Research Assistant

University of Hull

chloe.wilson@hull.ac.uk

Dr Chloe Wilson, recently awarded her doctorate for her investigation of the specific experiences of victims of human trafficking in England, shares some of her key findings.

Considering the treatment of victims by organisations in the United Kingdom [UK], particularly in the immediate aftermath of their initial identification, is key to restoring the victim voice. The very nature of the trafficking experience means that victims ‘lose their voice’, from the moment they are trafficked, to their eventual release (if applicable). Broadly, a lost victim voice relates to the individual inability to express the harm caused by a crime, or a criminal. This may occur due to trauma, which can greatly impact victim confidence. A further consideration (alongside the victim voice) is the disposable nature of individual victims. This is a term coined by Kevin Bales: a disposable person is a new type of victim, targeted as a cheap, replaceable commodity. Both of these concepts are particularly interesting when looking at the ways in which victims interact with organisations in the UK when they have been identified. The whole process relies on a level of cooperation from a victim, without which they cannot progress through the system. A disposable victim with a lost voice may be hard to support as they are often hurt, confused and afraid. These considerations emerge from a fundamental issue: the way victims of human trafficking are treated by organisations in the UK.

Victims have varied experiences, which can be split into two categories:

  1. Physical experiences, such as sexual or physical abuse, pregnancy, abortion, or illness.
  2. Psychological experiences, which affect the victim’s mental state and wellbeing, such as stress, psychological torture, emotional abuse and manipulation.

These two areas are not independent of one another – research shows that there is a significant crossover from one to the other for many victims.

The victim journey itself includes a number of substantial milestones, such as initial contact with a trafficker, arrival in the UK or destination city and exploitation. In the latter stages of their journey, as victims come into contact with the UK authorities or charity services, it is the variability of their experience that is notable.

  • How are they treated?
  • As a victim or as an offender?
  • Do they receive help initially?
  • Is there immediate support available to them?

These considerations are directly linked to government frameworks, which are in place to offer support to victims and to aid practitioners. This should provide an indication of the victim’s on-going treatment and the way the authorities may be able to improve the victim experience, in turn helping their recovery and rehabilitation.

Many external factors contribute to the lost victim voice. Many victims who have been trafficked into the UK are transported from foreign countries, meaning they have been separated from their home, family and culture. Not only have they been exploited and abused in some way, they are also very alone in a foreign place. This is a traumatic experience for the trafficked victim – the loneliness and fear of being so far away from their home and their family. This isolation can often manifest as guilt, with the victims blaming themselves for what has happened. Many feel they could have avoided the situation or that they were wrong to have initially trusted their traffickers. These feelings can be exaggerated by the captors who are likely to reinforce this message, telling the victims that they are to blame and that their families are suffering because of them.

Moving away from the trauma victims experience whilst they are being trafficked, focusing on the initial contact between victim and first-responder, is key to improving the victim experience and empowering them to regain their lost voice. Working with organisations to improve their services and ensure victim treatment is at the forefront of their agenda is a critical first step. Reaching across the globe to consider alternative approaches to victim treatment can also provide insight into best practice. In 2012, Unicef conducted a study of Nordic responses to child trafficking, with particular focus on assisting victims within the destination country. The paper considered the practical issues faced by child victims travelling thousands of miles to a new country and a new culture. Unicef suggests ways in which the experience might be improved for young victims, such as providing budgets, setting up institutions and creating action plans. It acknowledged that the progress made across the United Nations, in aiding victims and ensuring they are not left unprotected, has been slow. In short, this can be attributed to a lack of cooperative working between the organisations that are involved.

My research identifies substantive links between the lost victim voice and a lack of cooperation between organisations, highlighting the need for a more joined-up approach to provide the best possible support for victims of human trafficking. Drawing links with care for children in the UK and the notorious Victoria Climbie Case allowed me to develop an ‘Every Victim Matters’ approach. This idea focuses on multi-agency cooperation through the use of a Modern Slavery Key Worker. It is suggested that increased communication and accountability from organisations, alongside a consistent point of contact for the victim, would substantially improve the victim experience. ‘Every Victim Matters’ would improve the treatment of victims, enhance the victim experience and empower the victim voice.

Modern Slavery and Conflict: The Drivers and the Deterrents

Dr Alicia Kidd

Postdoctoral Researcher

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

a.kidd@hull.ac.uk

Dr Alicia Kidd, Postdoctoral Researcher at the Wilberforce Institute, talks about her forthcoming research monograph, Modern Slavery and Conflict: The Drivers and the Deterrents, after securing a contract with Oxford University Press. Her book will run in the Clarendon Studies in Criminology series.

This book developed out of my PhD thesis on the relationship between conflict and modern slavery, which I completed at the Wilberforce Institute in 2019. I had come to the subject in response to my experience as a practitioner in the field where I identified a real gap in research and knowledge regarding the root causes of modern slavery. In bringing an academic focus to practitioner experience, my book injects new material into the field of modern slavery, which is an area in which interest continues to grow amongst academics, practitioners and members of the public alike. This growing interest in modern slavery has also led to large public debates about immigration and asylum which are topics that my book engages with, particularly in relation to the discrepancies between the UK government’s declared intention to lead the way in defeating modern slavery whilst simultaneously imposing a restrictive and hostile environment on those seeking asylum.

By looking beyond just the individuals involved in cases of modern slavery – the victims and the perpetrators – my book will consider the ways in which states facilitate, and sometimes even actively encourage, situations of modern slavery to occur. While there is growing visibility of modern slavery, the portrayal of modern slavery cases inevitably focuses on an unwilling victim, tricked or deceived into exploitation by a criminal perpetrator looking to benefit from the victim’s misfortune. My book will challenge this conception of modern slavery by questioning the common assumptions that a) victims of modern slavery are all entirely distanced from the fate that awaits them and b) that modern slavery is a relationship simply between a victim and a perpetrator.

With a broad definition of conflict as an organising concept, I consider the ways in which conflict can facilitate modern slavery by generating unsafe conditions, disrupting support networks and encouraging displacement. Using first-hand accounts, comparisons are made between those who fled conflict to the UK in relative safety, and those who fled but then experienced modern slavery. My book contextualises these stories in order to understand why some people appear to be more at risk than others when escaping a conflict situation. The book also considers the lives of people after they have fled conflict and arrived in the UK. With the belief that they have left danger behind, arriving in the UK brings hopes of safety. However, by drawing insights from interviews with those who have experienced the UK immigration system, I am able to make observations about how the UK government and its restrictive and hostile immigration policies actually put people at increased risk of modern slavery once they are in the UK.

The strength of my book lies in its unique empirical focus on a comparison between first-hand accounts of people fleeing conflict to safety, and those fleeing conflict and experiencing modern slavery. It offers rare personal insights into the experiences of asylum seekers, refugees and victims of modern slavery and the specific aspects of their journeys that made them vulnerable to exploitation. I hope to have the first edition available in print in 2022.

In this blog, Professor Oldfield talks about the collaboration he was involved with between the Wilberforce Institute and the British Library.