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Modern slavery: UK sees rise in Indian citizens as potential victims

The 2017 figures for Indian citizens released by Britain’s National Crime Agency include 90 for labour exploitation, 25 for domestic servitude, 18 for sexual exploitation and seven categorised as unknown exploitation.

world Updated: Mar 27, 2018 15:06 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
A view of London. India ranks nine in the list of countries whose citizens are vulnerable to trafficking in the UK.
A view of London. India ranks nine in the list of countries whose citizens are vulnerable to trafficking in the UK. (Reuters File Photo)

The number of Indian citizens referred as potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery in the United Kingdom has increased from 100 in 2016 to 140 in 2017, ranking India among the top 10 countries in the list, new figures showed on Monday.

India is ninth in the list topped by the United Kingdom. The 2017 figures for Indian citizens released by Britain’s National Crime Agency include 90 for labour exploitation, 25 for domestic servitude, 18 for sexual exploitation and seven categorised as unknown exploitation.

Charity organisations such as Southall Black Sisters and Kalayaan deal with victims of modern slavery from India and south Asia, among other countries. Many victims are brought to the UK under the “domestic workers in a private household visa”.

The situation of such victims is dealt with by two agencies under a national referral mechanism: the NCA’s modern slavery human trafficking unit and the Home Office. The latest figures show that the overall number rose by a third in 2017 from the previous year.

Those referred as victims of modern slavery and human trafficking came from 116 different nationalities, with UK, Albanian and Vietnamese nationals remaining the most commonly reported victims, the NCA’s end of year summary for 2017 said.

In her previous role as home secretary, Prime Minister Theresa May had piloted the Modern Slavery Act, 2015 through Parliament, which gave law enforcement agencies more powers to deal with the issue, following growing concern in the UK.

NCA director Will Kerr said: “What this report reinforces is that we are now dealing with an evolving threat. The criminals involved in these types of exploitation are going into online spaces, particularly adult services website, to enable their criminality.

“We are also seeing increasing crossovers between slavery and organised immigration crime outside of the UK. Often the same criminal networks are involved in transportation, and migrants themselves are vulnerable to labour and sexual exploitation during their journeys and after.”

Victoria Atkins, minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability, added: “Modern slavery and trafficking are despicable crimes which see some of the most vulnerable people in society targeted by ruthless predators.

“These figures show that more potential victims are being identified and protected thanks to a greater awareness and improved understanding of modern slavery. We are also beginning to see the operational results of the renewed focus on modern slavery, with over 600 live police operations underway.”