Anti-Slavery Day 2022 press release
More than half the UK public say they have witnessed modern slavery, but many do not report their concerns through fear of repercussions — new research
New research from The Coalition to Stop Slavery has found that more than half of adults in the UK think they have spotted a victim of modern slavery, but only a little over one in three of those has ever raised concerns with police or others — often because they are scared to do so.
The findings suggest that 52% of the population have spotted people they think are victims of modern slavery; but only 35% of those have raised their concerns with police or others.
The survey also revealed that fear of repercussions from traffickers and not knowing how to report concerns are key reasons preventing people raising concerns.
Other findings include:
- Almost 9 in 10 of us (86%) believe the Government should do more to raise awareness of modern slavery in the UK — and that those responsible for the crime (88%) should face higher sentences
- 8 out of 10 of us believe companies should be required to do more to prevent modern slavery (83%) in their businesses and suppliers
- Women are much more likely than men to strongly support initiatives to tackle modern slavery and trafficking
- 8 out of 10 of us want more resources for police to investigate modern slavery crimes (84%)
The Coalition of 17 leading anti-slavery charities partnered with Zappi, the leading consumer research platform, to survey adults in the UK about their attitudes and awareness of modern slavery.
The research is released to mark the UK’s Anti-Slavery Day on 18 October, a date recognised by Parliament.
Beyond the public wanting the Government to raise awareness of modern slavery in the UK, eight out of ten (81%) of those questioned wanted the Government to ban the import of any products that have been tainted by modern slavery entering the UK. That’s why as well as spotting the signs of exploitation the Coalition is also urging the public to sign a petition calling on the Government to ban the import of products made with forced labour. New ILO research* shows that 50 million people are now thought to be in modern slavery globally, including millions of men, women and children in forced labour.
“Enough is enough,” says Andrew Wallis OBE, a spokesperson for the Coalition.
“Modern slavery is a crime hidden in plain sight — it’s happening in our communities, on our streets, it’s also present in the everyday products we all buy. The good news is that we can all take action to stop it. Whether that’s urging Government action to ban the import of products tainted by forced labour or learning how to spot the signs of exploitation in the UK and raise our concerns safely.
“One important way for the public to anonymously report signs of slavery is to call the Modern Slavery & Exploitation Helpline.”
Leading police officers and prosecutors agree that the public spotting the signs of exploitation is critical in the fight against human trafficking in the UK. Caroline Haughey KC says:
“The pandemic of slavery is riven through our society. From the clothes we wear, to the food we eat and within many of the services we take for granted. It is everywhere, from cities to villages, factories to fields, and we must not close our eyes to it. Where we see the signs of exploitation, when we have concerns about what is happening, we must report them. By failing to call it out, we become part of the problem rather than creating the solution.”
The Coalition has set up a new website to help the public to take action by learning how to spot the signs of modern slavery and report it, and by urging Government action to stop slavery in supply chains: coalitiontostopslavery.org
This research was conducted by Zappi between 2 and 7 September 2022. Zappi interviewed a nationally representative online sample of 1,000 UK respondents, with demographic controls for age, gender, and ethnicity.
Notes to editors
For more information, including spokespeople and pictures, contact
Up until earlier this year, Marius was trapped in modern slavery, forced to work and live in a carwash.
“I lived in the carwash for one year,” he says. “There was no kitchen, no washing facilities, no hot water. They took my passport. I lost 40kg in weight and had to work from early to late with no breaks.”
Marius’s appalling physical condition led to local people becoming concerned about his wellbeing. Some brought him food, but none realised his true situation and raised their concerns with the authorities.
About the Coalition to Stop Slavery
We are a coalition of UK-based voluntary, community and statutory groups whose goal is to end modern slavery and human trafficking for good. We do this through working together to raise awareness of this under-reported issue and influence public behaviour, business practice, government policy and the anti-slavery strategies of frontline organisations such as the NHS. As a coalition we are unique, bringing a powerful combination of local, global and survivor expertise to ending a crime that affects millions of people worldwide.
The Coalition organisations are:
Anti-Slavery International, Baca, City Hearts, Ella’s, Hestia, Hope at Home, Hope for Justice, International Justice Mission, Justice and Care, Medaille Trust, Migrant Help, The Anti-Slavery Collective, The Salvation Army, Sophie Hayes Foundation, Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland, Tribe Foundation, Unseen UK
We are a leading consumer insights enterprise platform designed for creators. If you’re part of a team that creates brands, ads or innovative new products, then we think you’re a creator. Our platform provides some of the world’s leading brands with access to actionable, quick and smart insights to amplify creative effectiveness and shape winning innovation, empowering creators with the agility and the data they need to make better decisions about the ads and innovation they take to market.
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- International Labour Organization