News / 2 June 2020

Modern Slavery Helpline 2019 assessment

A new report from the Modern Slavery Helpline has recorded another dramatic annual increase in contacts to the award-winning service, with the highest proportion of calls related to labour abuse.

Modern Slavery Helpline Annual Assessment 2019

Data from the 2019 Helpline Annual Assessment (pdf) reveals 1,812 cases of modern slavery raised through contacts to the Helpline, indicating 4,739 potential victims. This brings the total number of potential victims identified since the Helpline's launch in 2016 to 17,500.

There were 7,073 calls to the Helpline in 2019. Taking into account contacts through the website and Modern Slavery Helpline app, the total number of contacts was 9,236, an increase of 25% on 2018.

Says Justine Currell, Executive Director of Unseen, which runs the Modern Slavery Helpline: “We know that modern slavery and exploitation are hidden crimes. The potential victims indicated through contacts to the Helpline in 2019 is a drop in the ocean, making any previous UK estimates of the problem seem woefully inadequate."

Headline findings show labour exploitation taking the lion's share of reports, with the highest percentage for every UK country.

Labour exploitation accounted for 73% of reports in England, 49% in Scotland, and 92% in both Wales and Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile 318 potential victims were children, more than 7% of the total.

Download the executive summary

Download the full report

Car washes are main source of labour abuse

The report reveals the most common industry for labour abuse to be car washes, comprising 24% of labour abuse cases, followed by hospitality (17%), construction (9%) and beauty/spa services (7%).

Compared to the previous year there was an 108% increase in labour abuse cases involving construction.

40% of labour abuse cases cited failure to pay national minimum wage, followed by inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE, 17%), harassment/intimidation (16%) and insufficient breaks (13%).

What is the Modern Slavery Helpline?

The Modern Slavery Helpline provides information, advice and guidance to potential victims, businesses, statutory agencies such as the NHS and police, and the public about any modern slavery issue.

It is free to use, can take calls in more than 200 languages, and operates seven days a week across the UK.

Data from the Modern Slavery Helpline sheds light on the nature and scale of modern slavery in the UK and is used by charities, the police and Government to inform policy and to respond directly to reports of exploitative situations.

The Helpline receives no Government funding, relying instead on grants from trusts, businesses, fellow charities and other organisations, and donations from the general public.

Support the Helpline's vital service

As a result of the Covid-19 crisis, Unseen has lost huge amounts of funding and the future of the UK Modern Slavery Helpline is uncertain.

We rely on individuals for a significant amount of our funding and your generous support has never been more important.

Please donate now to ensure the Helpline stays open and continues to support victims of modern slavery.