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 is keen to help 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. Modern slavery is also present in the service industry including nail bars, car washes and restaurants as well as construction sites.
Who are the victims?
In 2017, Surrey Police found 51 potential victims of modern slavery in the 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 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 due 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.