‘Cost of living crisis will leave more people vulnerable to modern slavery’ says Hope for Justice

Modern slavery and human trafficking

By Local Democracy Reporter Katie May Nelson

The cost of living crisis could lead to more people becoming victims of modern slavery, a leading non-government organisation says.

It comes as statistics from Kent Police reveal how in the last four years, there have been 1,195 reports of modern slavery offences made in the county, but just 14 of those have resulted in charges.

Last year, the force investigated 329 modern slavery offences, which was a 22% rise from 2020’s figures.

In the majority of cases (146), the report has been closed pending further investigative opportunities, and in 101 cases, the victim either declined or was unable to support further investigation to identify the offender.

Between January and November this year, the force have investigated 436 reports relating to modern slavery. In 37 cases, the investigation is ongoing.

Paul McAnulty, UK and Europe programme director for the anti-modern slavery NGO Hope for Justice, says Brexit has changed the profile of victims.

He said before Brexit, many people who found themselves victim to modern slavery were from eastern European, countries but now there are more Eritrean, Nepalese, and Syrian people.

He explained: “The face of trafficking and exploitation is always evolving because exploiters are quite tenacious.

“The crisis in Ukraine has had a huge effect; 10 million people displaced overnight by the conflict and from what we can gather from our humanitarian partners in the sector, traffickers were on border crossings posing and dressed as humanitarian workers within hours and people (were) just being put into vans and never seen again.

Paul explained even if people had stable jobs in Ukraine, they could still become victims, adding: “People’s circumstances change and it’s no different here in the UK; we are currently going through a cost of living crisis which has impacted so many households, pushed so many households into poverty.

“We know poverty is one of the biggest drivers into exploitation, as is homelessness and destitution, the links there are well known.

“Given what we are experiencing now politically and in terms of the cost of living crisis, we are seeing more and more people susceptible to being exploited based on their economic situation.”


Paul said traffickers in the UK often threaten their victims by telling them they will be deported if they speak out, and when the police try to get them to give evidence against their captors, this often proves tricky due to a number of factors including how the criminal justice system works.

He said: “When we talk about the low conversion rates from how many investigations end up as prosecutions, it’s basically because we’ve got the relationship wrong.

“We currently prioritise perpetrator accountability and the criminal justice outcome over victim care, and then there are a lot of victim-blaming narrative where survivors don’t actually support a prosecution for whatever reason, whether they move, are re-trafficked, they are re-repatriated, they just can’t prioritise that now.

“No one wants to support a prosecution if they are facing homelessness, deportation, criminalisation, or if they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.”

The work taking place to tackle modern slavery reports in Thanet

Ten year slavery order imposed by court on Palm Bay Car Wash owner


    • Good point, many of our cities are built on the wealth generated from slavery…. With royal approval. Makes you proud to be British.

      • So true mostly Bristol and liverpool who still have streets name after these people.

        But on the other side you have great cities like Manchester were the cotton workers went on strike and refused to use cotton picked by slaves at great hardship to themselves. Hence Manchester has a state to Lincoln who wrote a thank you letter to Manchester city council thanking Manchester for its support of abolishing slavery.

        Manchester also built the Manchester ship Canal as the slave city of liverpool were charging expensive docking fees to bring in the cotton.

        So some towns and cities around England fought against slavery.

          • St Paul in the New Testament gives some useful advice as to how to treat your slaves, but that was then this is now! These vile people trading in human misery, must be stopped! More police are needed, and the judiciary needs to be strengthened because its taking years to get people into court sometimes, even for really serious crimes!

  1. Ok, so as we’ve heard in the news , albanians routinely make claims of being trafficked and modern slavery as a way of claiming asylum, amazingly enough many arrive on the kent foreshore . So perhaps the figures would be more meaningful if the numbers were split to show how amny albanians make such claims in kent and everyone else.

    • Interesting comment. Do you think asylum seekers jump on a bus and choose their destination? Hardly think they’ve thought, ‘gosh, I’ve always dreamed of living in dover or Thanet’.

      • My point is that the article cites a huge rise in modern slavery claims in last 4 years ( only 14 resulted in charges let alone a succesful prosecution) so i’d guess that the bulk of these 1195 reported cases are by those coming here from a safe country ( albania) and using the modern slavery laws as a way of gaming the asylum system.
        Of course asylum seekers are choosing their destination, why otherwise would they go to the efforts of entering the uk by nefarious means otherwise?

  2. By Local Democracy Reporter Katie May Nelson

    The cost of living crisis could lead to more people becoming victims of modern slavery, a leading non-government organisation says.

    Listen, your wrong

  3. Women are forced into giving sexual services not necessarily by the threat of violence but by circumstances that they find themselves in. Keeping a roof over their children’s heads and food on the table is a compelling force for any mother to be submitting to and goes unseen for obvious reasons.

Comments are closed.