British Nationals – The Hidden Victims of Modern Slavery

Dr Craig Barlow

Independent Forensic Social Work Consultant & Criminologist

Honorary Research Fellow, Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

cbarlow@craigbarlow.co.uk

September saw the completion, publication and launch of an important scoping study addressing the experiences of British victims of modern slavery and their pathways to safety and recovery.  The research was led by Dr Carole Murphy at The Bakhita Centre, St Mary’s University, Twickenham in partnership with Louise Gleich at Justice and Care. Dr Alicia Heys, modern slavery lecturer at the Wilberforce Institute, and Dr Craig Barlow, Independent Forensic Social Work Consultant & Criminologist and Honorary Research Fellow at the Institute, were co-investigators on the twelve month project. The project was commissioned by the Modern Slavery Policy and Evidence Centre (MSPEC).

The Project

Currently, British nationals represent the highest number of referrals from one nationality into the National Referral Mechanism [NRM] with year-on-year increases rising from 90 in 2013 to 3,952 in 2021. The percentage of referrals that are British nationals has also risen each year from 2016 until 2020. In 2021, although the actual number had risen again, the percentage had dropped slightly: last year, British nationals accounted for nearly a third of all potential victims (31%). The largest proportion of these referrals in 2021 was for criminal exploitation involving children, representing 55% of all referrals of British nationals, with the majority exploited in criminal activities such as ‘county lines’.

Despite this rise no comprehensive study has been conducted on their specific vulnerabilities or to identify their specific recovery needs. That which exists has been largely focused on criminal exploitation and the ‘county lines’ phenomenon or sexual exploitation. The project sought to begin to fill this gap.

Research Objectives

  • Understand the experiences of British nationals who have been trafficked
  • Identify gaps in support needs provided for British survivors
  • Compare with findings from other groups
  • Develop coherent responses to the specific needs of British Nationals
  • Provide an evidence base for improved grass-roots delivery of support for British survivors
  • Provide an evidence base to influence policy on the support needs of British survivors

The project resulted in a series of publications, conferences and events culminating in the final report, launched at the House of Lords, and hosted by Lord McColl, on September 6, 2022.

Publications and Conference Papers

The literature review for this project was adapted for a journal article  and published  at the beginning of September:  A Review of Modern Slavery in Britain: Understanding the Unique Experience of British Victims and Why it Matters – Alicia Heys, Craig Barlow, Carole Murphy, Amy McKee, 2022 (sagepub.com)

As part of the research, Craig undertook a critical review of the current criminal and civil legislation and justice system in the UK and presented some of the findings of this review in a paper at the British Society of Criminology’s annual conference hosted by Surrey University on June 29. His paper ‘British Victims of Modern Slavery: Journeys into Criminal Exploitation and Alternative Interventions’ critiqued the current legal and policy response to the criminal exploitation of children and vulnerable adults, building on his doctoral research and recent work published with Alicia Keys, Simon Green and Beth Derby.

We followed this up with two conference papers in The Netherlands, at the fifth global meeting of the Slavery Past, Present & Future Conference at Webster University, Leiden. We were joined by Professor Simon Green who presented a paper with Craig focusing on child trafficking and criminal exploitation while Alicia and Carole presented early findings from the British Nationals project.

The Final Report

Identifying Pathways to Support British Victims of Modern Slavery towards Safety and Recovery: A Scoping Study  surveyed and interviewed over 50 professionals working with people affected by modern slavery, as well as interviewing seven survivors, to paint a complex picture of systemic barriers creating social and economic vulnerabilities in relation to modern slavery. The lack of awareness amongst services to intervene early and protect British nationals from exploitation was a key feature.

Carole Murphy said, “Our research shows that there’s a huge gap in knowledge about the potential for British nationals to be exploited in modern slavery. This lack of knowledge and understanding results in them not being offered the same support as other people…[British nationals] are commonly failed by the authorities, facing what one respondent in this study referred to as ‘a cycle of closed doors’.

“What sets British citizens affected by modern slavery apart from other potential victims is that they have regularly come into contact with social services, schools and education institutions, mental and physical health professionals even before their exploitation starts. Despite this, agencies that are designed to support them regularly miss opportunities to protect them from being exploited.”

Moving Forward

The report recommends implementing a public health approach to modern slavery to prioritise prevention and early identification of British nationals, including reviewing legislative protections for survivors. At regional and local levels, the report proposes implementing community awareness and resilience programmes and developing multi-agency modern slavery partnerships.

It also advises providing training to frontline professionals likely to encounter potential victims of modern slavery, specifically addressing the experience of modern slavery for British nationals.

Furthermore, it recommends integrating the approach to supporting people who have experienced modern slavery, including improved communication between services provided through the NRM and local authorities, as well as the Crown Prosecution Service in cases of criminal exploitation.

The Impact of the Climate Crisis on Modern Slavery

Megan White

Modern Slavery Partner Administrator,

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

Megan.White@hull.ac.uk

Globally, endeavours have been made for the prevention and eradication of modern slavery. Target 8.7 of the UN’s current Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] aiming to ‘end modern slavery and human trafficking’ and the G7 financial minister’s recent joint statement condemning the exploitation of people in global supply chains highlight this. Nonetheless, the International Labour Organisation has estimated that just under 50 million people are trapped in modern slavery in 2021. It is well established that global supply chains are hubs for the international exploitation of people. The NGO, Anti-Slavery International, for instance has reported that 16 million people are currently exploited in the private sector with links to supply chains. Exploitation is a common feature at all stages in production, from harvesting the initial raw materials to manufacturing and shipping.

The growing challenge of the climate crisis adds an additional layer of complexity to modern slavery and human trafficking globally. Environmental degradation, loss of land, security and livelihoods are set to push millions of people into vulnerable situations that risk exploitation. Moreover, for those already at risk of exploitation, the climate crisis will only add to their vulnerability. Heat waves, earthquakes, extreme flooding and wildfires are just some of the consequences of the ongoing climate crisis. Most often the poorest members of society from low-income countries are impacted disproportionately because of the limited national disaster relief capacity of the State, and the fact that many individuals rely on optimal climate conditions to support their livelihoods. Primarily this is seen in the agricultural sector. As a direct result of this, climate catastrophes will force individuals into situations of desperation, posing an increased risk for them to become vulnerable to exploitation.

This is a universal challenge that the international community needs to address. The joint report produced by the International Institute for Environment and Development and Anti-Slavery International in 2021 cements this, finding that drought in North Ghana has forced migration to cities, and upon reaching these cities, individuals were at higher risk of modern slavery, particularly debt bondage, trafficking and sexual exploitation. Moreover, the 2016 report of the International Organisation for Migration [IOM] revealed that in India, exploiters tend to recruit before the harvest season or in periods of drought as these are often the hardest time periods for agricultural workers, ensuring advantage can be taken of them at the peak of their vulnerability.

These brief examples demonstrate that climate change is already exacerbating modern slavery, acting as a driver for vulnerability. On an international level the IOM has stressed the importance of understanding the ‘hidden’ consequences of the climate crisis, and that it goes far beyond extreme weather conditions. Considering this, responses to modern slavery must include the impact of climate change, particularly in areas with poor governance and insufficient national protections established for potential climate migrants.

However, a lack of corporate social responsibility, the prospect of being involved in a 150 billion dollar economy and a huge consumer demand from the West underscore a lack of willingness by exploiters to amend the appalling human rights violations in modern slavery. This is further compounded by the sophisticated recruitment strategies and desperate situations of vulnerability which foster ideal conditions to help facilitate modern slavery.

International Law prohibits modern slavery, with some forms of slavery even prosecuted as crimes against humanity in the International Criminal Court. However, clear gaps remain in protections against those subjected to modern slavery, as demonstrated by the examples and statistics outlined previously. Enforcement of norms is unclear, and because of the various components of modern slavery, UN bodies, human rights regulators and other international systems are fragmented, leading to inefficiencies. This is further exacerbated and complicated by the challenges brought on through climate change. Although modern slavery is a feature of the SDGs for 2030, in part due to the UK government launching an international campaign to raise awareness of this issue, many parties seem uninterested and unwilling to initiate change to prevent the exploitation and commodification of people, particularly when the demand is so high in this multi-billion dollar industry.

On a more local level, the University of Hull’s 2030 agenda is focused on carving out a more equitable and sustainable world, by addressing inequalities and injustices including exploitation. Moreover, the expertise of the Wilberforce Institute has been utilised by organisations to map out the risks associated with labour and human rights violations by large corporations in their supply chains. The Institute also remains at the forefront of delivering knowledge and conducting research on modern slavery within the UK. However, as Vice Chancellor Professor Dave Petley reflected on last week in his blog for Anti-Slavery Day, there is still much to do.

Revisiting seafood supply chains with Waitrose

Cristina Talens

Director of Modern Slavery Risk Assessments

Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull

c.talens@hull.ac.uk

For over 15 years, Waitrose has had a strategy in place for the responsible sourcing of wild-caught and farmed fish. The retailer has placed great emphasis on ensuring they sell only high quality products sourced from known and approved farms (Waitrose’s supply chain information can be found on the Ocean Disclosure Project website). However, these farms (and fisheries) are located across the world and include some high-risk countries with regards to human rights abuses. Some of them have been widely reported in the press, with headlines focussing predominantly on seafood supply chains in south-east Asia and Central and Latin America. Examples include incredibly long working hours which have led to workers allegedly consuming drugs, such as amphetamines, just to keep going.

In March 2019, Waitrose commissioned the Wilberforce Institute to map out the risks associated with labour and human rights in their seafood supply chains for prawns, scallops, mussels, squid, ray, herring milts and clams amongst others.

The Wilberforce Institute conducted a desk review and interviewed HR personnel and managers from 11 seafood companies in Chile, Ecuador, Honduras, Indonesia, Madagascar, Nicaragua, Peru and Vietnam. The aim of this was to understand worker recruitment and management practices and consider the risk that modern slavery and labour exploitation could take place. The 11 sites covered a workforce of 8900 permanent workers and 1100 temporary workers employed on farms, hatcheries and feeding centres.

The interviews provided Waitrose, and their direct UK based suppliers, with an overview of the specific labour and human rights risks affecting the selected seafood supply chains. Below is a summary of the findings which were based entirely on information provided by site managers:

Gender: 95% of the workforce identified on farms and hatcheries and feeding centres were male. It was therefore considered that in the scenarios being assessed, men were at a much higher risk of human rights abuses than women. One of the reasons given for the gender disparity was that farms and hatcheries are remotely located and the tasks performed by workers are more physically demanding. It is notable that at the packhouse, the gender ratio changes with women representing 50% of the workforce. Packhouses are located nearer to local communities and the work is less physical.

Recruitment methods: Most sites appear to use labour agencies for the purpose of recruiting workers, but not for managing them.

2 out of 11 sites (12%) reported that they used labour agencies and/or subcontractors in Indonesia and Vietnam at hatcheries and farms in more remotely located areas.

5 out of 11 sites (45%) reported that labour agencies carried out recruitment, but that they directly employ the workers once they arrive on site.

Hours: It was found that there was often a lack of transparency regarding working hours. This, in turn, often translated into a lack of transparency on worker’s wages as it is unclear what hourly wage is being paid and whether overtime premiums are being paid.

2 out of 11 sites (12%) had no transparency on working hours and therefore there was a high possibility that wages were being incorrectly calculated. 

5 out of 11 sites (45%) reported excessive working hours and working days. On one site, workers undertook four weeks of work without a day off.

Accommodation: Hatcheries and farms often house workers. The sites are remotely located and accommodation is provided at 7 of the 11 sites (64%).  These house hundreds of workers at a time and this is where the risk of forced labour is highest. Processing sites tend to be closer to the towns providing better transport links and communication with the outside world.

Loans: It is recognised by the farms that loans can be of benefit where there is no welfare structure to support the most vulnerable. The loan amount must not be more than can be reasonably paid back, as this would create debt bondage. Loans were offered in 7 out of 11 sites (64%).

Worker voice: The effectiveness of current worker voice/feedback mechanisms at the farm sites is questionable.

6 out of 11 sites (55%) reported that they had trade unions in place: 4 of these were in Vietnam and 1 in Indonesia. To date, in Vietnam, there is only one representative organisation of workers, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour (VGCL), however in December 2019 the New Labour Code of Vietnam was passed, for enactment in January 2021. In order to observe Vietnam’s commitments under the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA) and ILO Conventions, the New Labour Code recognises the right of employees to set up their own representative organisations. The 2020 ITUC Global Rights Index rated Indonesia as a 5, which means there is no guarantee of worker rights in the country. There is also evidence that arbitrary arrests of union representatives were made there in 2019.

In South America, there was no trade union representation at any of the farm sites. Ecuador and Honduras were both rated as a 5, which means that there is no guarantee of worker rights, whereas Chile and Peru were only slightly better with a rating of 4, meaning there are systematic violations of rights. Nicaragua did not have a rating.

There has been considerable unrest across South America in recent years, and at one site, workers (who are housed in employer’s accommodation) were not allowed to contact the ‘outside world’, which was considered by the farm management as a safety measure but could also be viewed as a forced labour indicator.

As a result of these risk assessments, Waitrose engaged direct suppliers, sharing the findings of the assessments with them and following up on the individual corrective actions taken at the farm sites. They also issued a call to action for the industry to collaborate on greater transparency within seafood supply chains as the best opportunity to tackle both illegal fishing and human rights abuses within the seafood sector. To this end, Waitrose signed the Environmental Justice Foundation’s 10 point Charter for Transparency in 2019. Waitrose also recognised that there was a clear need for further investigation and research into the human rights risks in seafood supply chains, especially at the hatcheries and farm sites which are often remotely located and appear to be high risk. Industry collaboration is required to conduct and fund risk assessments on sites in the highest risk countries and could be supported by experts on modern slavery such as those at the Wilberforce Institute.

Long Term Support for Survivors of Modern Slavery: The Importance of Modern Slavery Champions Within Organisations

Tuesday 11 October 2022, 08.45am onwards

Aura Innovation Centre,

Meadow Road

Kingston upon Hull

HU13 0GD

The Wilberforce Institute, University of Hull, in collaboration with the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership and national partners invite you to our upcoming free one-day conference ‘Long Term Support for Survivors of Modern Slavery – The Importance of Modern Slavery Champions Within Organisations’.

The Global Slavery Index estimates there are 40.3 million people trapped in some form of slavery around the globe today. In the UK, 12,727 people were officially identified as potential victims of modern slavery in 2021. Slavery and trafficking are crimes punishable by severe penalties, yet the problem remains and is growing. Providing long term support to victims and survivors of slavery and trafficking is vital in helping people make lasting and meaningful recoveries, to avoid further trauma and re-exploitation, and in some cases to support prosecutions against their exploiters. Access to support services for victims of slavery and trafficking in the UK is provided through the National Referral Mechanism [NRM]. People who are referred into the NRM are entitled to a range of support services such as accommodation, financial assistance, counselling, or help accessing legal advice.

However, research shows us that there is a distinct lack of understanding of what support people need once they have exited this provision or indeed why they sometimes choose to decline any offer of support in the first place.

This one-day conference at the Aura Innovation Centre brings together new empirical research findings by leading academics, stories from survivors, and experts working in policing and victim support to explore and discuss the importance of having skilled professionals in key positions within organisations who can work with victims to improve their long-term outcomes.

Over the course of the day, you will hear from our expert academic and professional speakers on their research findings and the real-world strategies they use to engage and safeguard victims with a focus on agency and identity.

You will take part in interactive workshops, working with colleagues to discuss and develop new approaches you can apply in your own organisation. The day will end with a panel session giving you an opportunity to pose questions to our speakers.

Confirmed Speakers

Professor Simon Green and Dr Nicola O’Leary, University of Hull – Reclaiming the Narrative: Victims reframing victimology. Empirical research findings

DC Colin Ward, Modern Slavery Unit, Manchester Police – Safeguarding victims in policing

Richard Eastwood, Justice and Care, embedded in Essex Police – The role of victim navigators

Major Kathy Betteridge, Director Anti Trafficking & Modern Slavery, The Salvation Army – ‘We are not for sale’, the role of the Salvation Army

Jen Nghishitende, University of Hull, PHD research – “Freedom is a constant struggle”: Women’s journeys after modern slavery in the United Kingdom

About the venue

This is a free event hosted by the University of Hull in a unique and state of the art venue. The Aura Innovation Centre is located at the heart of the UK’s Energy Estuary, in one of the greenest business parks in the country – Bridgehead in Hessle, East Yorkshire. On track to receive a BREEAM Excellent rating for its design, construction, and materials sourced through local supply chains, the Innovation Centre is in the top 10% of UK new non-domestic buildings. And, with an A-rated Energy Performance Certificate the AIC outperforms most new, similar buildings.

Registration and Dietary Requirements

Click here to register for this free one-day event.

Lunch and refreshments are provided. Vegan and vegetarian options are available but please let us know in advance if you have any specific dietary requirements by emailing our interns Sophie and Megan.

sophie.blanchard@hull.ac.uk

megan.white@hull.ac.uk

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.