Modern slavery happens everywhere
The Diocese of Guildford covers Surrey and North East Hampshire and is seen as an area of overriding affluence, although there are pockets of real disadvantage. The reality of struggling to make ends meet when there is such affluence around you can make life harder in some ways. The team are keen to make local people understand that modern slavery can take place anywhere and that anyone can be at risk of exploitation. Affluence doesn’t immunise the area from modern slavery. In actual fact it may be a driving factor of exploitation, with the presence of in-house servants, who could be victims of domestic servitude. Construction, The service industry including nail bars, car washes and restaurants as well as construction sites also contributes to a high risk of modern slavery.
Who are the victims?
In 2017, Surrey Police found 51 potential victims of modern slavery in their area. They were from 14 different countries, spread across three continents, but the majority – 21 of the 51 – were from the UK. The diocese believes that for many people the perception of the victims is that they are from overseas, and they don’t understand that British nationals, particularly young people, are trafficked up and down the country for the purpose of exploitation.
A learning partnership
The University of Surrey has been working with the Diocese of Guildford and Surrey Police to start to develop an evidence base and better understanding of modern slavery in Surrey. As part of this they have conducted a small scoping study by interviewing those working in the sector, to seek to start to understand the extent and nature of modern slavery in Surrey and North East Hampshire and how statutory and non-statutory partners could form a partnership to have a productive response. An intern over the 2018 summer break has been able to draw together the information and, together with key players, produce a report on what a partnership may look like. They hope to continue this work with a further study that will map the problem more extensively and form an Anti-Slavery Partnership.
A hub of connections
While many people have lived in the Diocese of Guildford all their lives, the diocese also has an ever-flowing stream of people moving through, mainly down to local transport connections and easy reach of London. The M3, M25, and the A3 are easily accessible within the diocese and the ports of Southampton and Portsmouth, together with Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, are close by. Aware that 50% of trafficked people pass through London, these transport links could translate to a flow of trafficking victims moving through the county.