Sunderland Charity Highlights rise in Human Trafficking

Written by on 26th January 2018

Human trafficking is the world’s fastest growing crime. The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 20.9 million victims of human trafficking globally.

The National Crime Agency say 1002 potential victims were referred in to the National Referral Mechanism during the period April to June 2016; a 12% increase on the previous quarter January to March 2016. We say ‘potential’ victims as they have to be approved through a process by the NCA to before they are officially recognised by the government.

It’s charities and programs run by those like City Hearts that look after these people whilst they are in a limbo state.. We’ve spoken to some of the women who run the North East branch of City Hearts, about how they help and what it’s like to do their job on a day to day basis.

Helen starts by explaining what is involved with human trafficking.  

“Basically, it’s the movement of people, it’s the selling of people, and the exploitation of people. There’s a few different types of modern slavery; forced labour, which looks like people being forced to work for little to no pay, in bad conditions. Then there’s domestic servitude, which is someone being a household slave, so someone being made to work within a house, look after children, make meals. There is also sexual exploitation, someone being forced into prostitution or pornography. Another is organ harvesting, so the removing of organs and the selling of organs on the black market.”

The statistics tell us that anyone can become a victim of human trafficking. The NCA reports that potential victims of trafficking came from 70 different nations in 2016. One in four victims are children.

Hannah said “There is no typical case or victim, but for as typical as you get, it’ll be someone who’s already in a vulnerable position, they might be sold by their family, because the family don’t have any money, or promised an amazing life abroad with lots of money. When they get there, the job looks nothing like they’ve been promised, and they’re forced to work to pay off the travel expenses- often 90 hours a week for very little take home pay.”

How can we help? Obviously as a charity, monetary donations are always welcome, but the ladies explain that practical donations of clothes, new bed sheets, baby things are all very welcome. At City Hearts, one of the big things they try to do, is to add value to people, and part of how they do this, is through a welcome pack. This includes new bed sheets, pyjamas and underwear, as well as some basic clothing. Other items are then added depending on the person’s needs.

Education, as Stacey suggests, is also imperative- currently only 1% of victims are helped and this is in part, due to the lack of awareness and reporting. If more people are aware of what human trafficking looks like, more could be helped. City Hearts North East, in the last two years have supported 65 people through the process (in just one safe house), but this could be so much more.

We’ve been given some pointers for things to be aware of:

  • ID and money. If someone else is in control of an individual’s ID, this can be a big warning sign.
  • Injuries. If you regularly someone has been injured, this can be a sign.
  • High turnover of staff in places like car washes , nail parlours, or building sites.

If you suspect, or you’ve seen something you’re worried about, report it to the police immediately.


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