Co-op research: one in five Brits unaware of modern slavery in UK

• Over a third (35%) of Brits don’t think modern slavery exists where they live
• More than two thirds (68%) of Brits admit they simply wouldn’t know what signs to look for, when looking for evidence of modern slavery
• More than half of Brits (54%) wouldn’t know what to do or who to talk to if they suspected someone was a victim of modern slavery
• Co-op offers advice on how to spot the signs and stop it!

MANCHESTER, 20-Oct-2017 — /EuropaWire/ — New research* from the Co-op has found that one in five Brits (18%) haven’t even heard of modern slavery despite it happening in the UK right now.

This figure rises to just under half (44%) for those aged over 35 and almost a quarter (24%) amongst the young (25-34yr olds), but in reality the real figure could be much higher – as one in three Brits said modern slavery had never crossed their minds. Whilst over a third (35%) of Brits don’t think modern slavery exists in their home town or city.

Of those surveyed one in ten people think they may have come across a victim those with ‘key prompts’ including; appearing isolated or vulnerable (43%), appearing fearful of their employer (40%), the suspected victim looking unwell or dishevelled (35%), being nervous of having any customer interaction (27%), wary of authorities (23%). A further 1 in 5 Brits (19%) said they saw them being moved about in large groups and 18% said their movement or freedom appeared restricted.

Key signs Brits sense they’ve come into contact with a modern slave

No. Key Signs %
1 They appeared isolated or vulnerable 43%
2 They appeared fearful of their employer 40%
3 They looked unwell / dishevelled 35%
4 They appeared nervous to interact with me 27%
5 They appeared wary of police / authorities 23%
6 I saw them being moved about with other people in a large group 19%
7 They seem restricted not allowed to do things 18%

The sectors of the economy where respondents thought they may have encountered victims of modern slavery were hospitality (19%), fast food outlets (18%), domestic service/cleaning (16%) and car washes (11%). Of those who suspected the crime of modern slavery may have been taking place, one in three say they talked to the victim, one in five say they talked to the suspected victims’ employer and 19% say they reported it to the police. However, one in four said they didn’t act on their suspicions as they couldn’t be sure.

This sparks a bigger issue, exposing the level – or lack of – accessible information and guidance available to the general public on this global crime epidemic, as the research reveals that more than half of us (54%) would not know what to do or who to talk to if they suspected someone was a victim of modern slavery, with this figure rising to almost two thirds (64%) amongst under 25s.

More than two thirds (68%) of Brits admit they simply would not know what signs to look for, when looking for evidence of modern slavery. The Co-opadvises that if you see any of the following signs that someone might need help:

• Poor physical appearance
• Vulnerable and isolated
• Few personal belongings
• No passport or legal documents
• Evidence of physical/mental abuse
• Wary of the police/authorities
• Groups of people being moved at unusual hours
• Large groups staying in multiple occupancy accommodation

Paul Gerrard, Co-op’s Group Policy and Campaigns Director said: “Our research demonstrates that we as a nation need educating on what signs to look for, who to tell, what to do and for more of us to ‘wake up’ to the reality and existence of modern slavery.

“It’s an injustice and a blight on modern society that over 10,000 men, women and children are being exploited in the UK. Traffickers are forcing people into a life of abuse and inhumane treatment.

“One of the main problems in tackling modern slavery is the lack of awareness about what it is and how to spot it, and today, as part of Anti-Slavery Day, we’re raising awareness about how you can look out for the signs that someone might need help.

“We’ve partnered with the City Hearts and the Snowdrop Project to develop our Bright Future programme that helps survivors of modern slavery rebuild their lives by offering paid employment and the dignity that provides.”

The Co-op is committed to adopting practical interventions to help reduce modern slavery as well as doing everything we can to raise awareness of the issue amongst our members, customers and suppliers. If you think someone is being exploited, call the 24/7 modern slavery helpline on 08000 121 700.

For more information please contact:
Sarah Dawson
Corporate PR & Media Manager

Note to editors
*Research conducted by One Poll in August 2017 questioning 2,012 UK adults

Bright Future programme – In the first employment programme of its kind, the Co-op and anti-trafficking charity CityHearts launched ‘Bright Future’ in March this year giving 30 survivors a four-week work placement within our food business, with the opportunity to turn this into a full-time job. So far, nine men and women have accepted jobs at our Co-op stores or warehouses.


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