“If there is one abuse that offends our conscience in every way it is the enslavement of a human being. No child should be born without hope; no person should live without freedom.” Desmond Tutu
Many Scottish people would not believe that modern day slavery is an issue in their area, yet it is widespread throughout Scotland, including remote areas such as Fort William, Livingston and the Orkney islands where victims of the crime have been identified over the past number of years, along with in the larger cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee. It can be found in nail bars, factories, car washes and the cleaning industry.
The term modern slavery under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 encompasses the following definitions:
- Slavery is where ownership is exercised over a person
- Servitude involves the obligation to provide services imposed by coercion
- Forced or compulsory labour involves work or service extracted from any person under the menace of a penalty and for which the person has not offered himself voluntarily
- Human trafficking concerns arranging or facilitating the travel of another with a view to exploiting them.
The problem is such that a leading anti- slavery charity has launched an app to involve the public in the fight against these crimes. The app which was developed in partnership with BT will help users identify signs of forced labour and then use the app to report a confidential concern to the Modern Slavery Helpline where the data will be anonymised and shared with the National Crime Agency and the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority.
Eric Anderson who heads the modern slavery programme at BT commented “We know increased awareness and action from the public is critical to turning the tide on modern slavery.”
The Modern Slavery Helpline was launched in 2016.The charity noted that more than 2,700 calls and online reports were made in the first half of 2018, an 80% jump from the same time period in 2017 but prosecutions are low.
The app has been welcomed by various agencies across the UK