The Department of Justice is calling on the public to be vigilant for signs of slavery and trafficking happening in Northern Ireland.
The reminder comes on Anti-Slavery Day as the latest figures report an increase in cases of modern slavery being investigated in Northern Ireland.
Since April 2019, the PSNI has investigated 54 referrals to the National Referral Mechanism, compared to 33 at the same time in 2018. Offences range from labour exploitation to sexual exploitation; forced criminality and domestic servitude.
The Department of Justice works with statutory and non-governmental partners to help make Northern Ireland a hostile place for those intent on exploiting other people.
Claire Archbold, Director of Safer Communities Department of Justice, said: “I would appeal to people to be vigilant about the existence of modern slavery in Northern Ireland.
“The Department aims to prevent people from getting drawn into slavery by reducing the vulnerability of those who may be targeted by traffickers and enslavers; and ensuring that the general public is equipped to spot the signs of exploitation and report any suspicions.
“If you suspect that someone is a victim, ring 101, or in case of an emergency, ring 999 otherwise contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 0121 700.”
The Department today welcomed publication of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner’s Strategic Plan 2019- 21.
Julie Wilson, Department of Justice said: “The Commissioner’s Strategic Plan is focused on the priorities of improving how we care for and support victims; supporting the law enforcement response; preventing modern slavery and getting value from research and innovation. These priorities are closely aligned to the strategic response we have adopted in Northern Ireland and the Commissioner’s focus on these areas will help to drive excellence and improvement for the benefit of victims.
“I also welcome the 2019 Annual Report UK on Modern Slavery which provides an overview of the UK wide response to the threat of trafficking and slavery. The report reflects Northern Ireland specific outcomes, referencing a case study of a successful operation to recover victims.”
Notes to editors:
1. Anti-Slavery Day is an annual event when EU countries are asked to raise awareness of modern slavery.
2. Some of the signs of modern slavery are
- Someone who is distrustful of authorities;
- Someone who appears to be under the control of others;
- An over-crowded house or flat;
- Someone who is unsure of their address or the local area;
- Someone who may not have cash because they can’t keep the money they earn or
- Someone who can’t produce their passport or personal documents.
3. For further information go to nidirect.gov.uk/human-trafficking
4. For furthern information on the Modern Slavery annual report 2019 visit gov.uk/publications
6. For all media queries, please contact the Department Of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on number 028 9037 8110.