Modern slavery victims 'hidden in plain sight', councils warn

From BBC - January 16, 2018

Householders could "unwittingly" be hiring victims of modern slavery to wash their cars, paint their nails or lay their drives, councils are warning.

Local councils in England and Wales say they are reporting increasing numbers of potential victims of modern slavery.

They flagged 1,322 cases to authorities from July to September 2017, a near 50% increase on the previous year.

Simon Blackburn, of the Local Government Association, said many victims were hidden in "plain sight".

"Being forced into domestic servitude, being trafficked for work, or subject to exploitation is a horrendous fate, and one most of us ca not even imagine - but the sad truth is that there is a good chance that modern slavery is taking place in the towns, cities and villages where we live," he said.

He said householders were "unaware of the hell" victims were living through when they unknowingly hired them to carry out tasks.

Local councils reported 1,322 cases last summer to the National Referral Mechanism, which identifies and supports victims, compared with 901 between July and September 2016.

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