New team to fight modern slavery in North-West England

Hope for Justice will enable more people trapped in modern slavery in Lancashire and the surrounding area of North West England to rediscover their freedom and rebuild their lives.

The pioneering anti-slavery charity is recruiting a new team of community engagement specialists to respond to the worrying rise in human trafficking in Lancashire, with the number of possible cases having risen by more than half in the past year.

Picture shows Preston in Lancashire, one of the areas to be covered by Hope for Justice’s new team

The three new staff members will begin work in April, and will follow the charity’s award-winning holistic response to slavery, which is successfully fighting this abhorrent crime in West Yorkshire and the East Midlands and which has been launched internationally.

People are being trafficked into many forms of exploitation in the North West, through physical, financial or psychological control. People are being forced to work for little or no pay in logistics, food production and agriculture, as well as nail bars, restaurants, and car washes.  Victims are also often coerced into sexual exploitation, forced criminality and domestic servitude.

Hope for Justice will invest around £100,000 over the next year to enable its team to identify victims, support them to find a way out, and work alongside them as they begin to recover and build a new life. The team will also carry out vital preventative work by training local authorities, police, healthcare professionals and social workers, as well as businesses, groups and individuals to spot the signs of modern slavery and know how to report them.

Paul McAnulty, UK and Europe Programme Director at Hope for Justice, said: “We’ve identified an urgent need in the North West, with rising numbers of people being treated as disposable commodities and exploited for greed and profit. We find this utterly unacceptable. Wherever modern slavery exists, we will be there to stamp it out. That’s why our new team will roll out our tried-and-tested response to human trafficking, and work with our partners to banish modern slavery for good. We are absolutely committed to empowering those under the control of traffickers to rediscover their freedom, their voice and their hope.”

Figures from the UK government’s National Referral Mechanism (the process which formally identifies someone as a victim of human trafficking) show there were 135 people who may have been forced to work against their will in Lancashire in 2019; an increase of 55 per cent upon the previous year. However, with many victims not being identified via these official routes, Hope for Justice believes that the true numbers of people affected will be much higher.

The charity’s new team will work closely with partners including the Pan-Lancashire Anti-Slavery Partnership, Greater Manchester Anti-Slavery Network, the police, local authorities in Lancashire and Greater Manchester, and NGOs.