Last month the National Crime Agency (NCA) published its annual assessment on the nature and scale of human trafficking in the UK, reporting an unprecedented rise in the number of labour exploitation cases. For the first time, there were found to be almost as many people exploited for work as those trafficked for sexual purposes.
Of a total of 3,309 registered potential victims of trafficking in 2014, a figure which the Home Office believes to be much higher in reality, 1,017 were classified as having been exploited for their labour across various sectors of the economy. This constitutes a 37% increase from the previous year.
In particular, instances of labour exploitation have soared in car washes, factories and restaurants/bars, going up from 30 to 127, 41 to 129 and 7 to 49 respectively. The only two sectors which saw a decrease in the number of potential victims compared to 2013 are the maritime sector and the block paving and tarmacking industry.