Advanced search Click here for the website of the current Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby

This is an archived website containing material relating to Dr Rowan Williams’ time as Archbishop of Canterbury, which ended on 31st December 2012

Skip Content

Anti-Slavery Day - Saturday 18th October 2014

Anti-Slavery Day

Friday 17th October 2014

Anti-Slavery Day falls on 18 October each year. It provides an opportunity to draw attention to the subject and to pressurise government, local authorities, public institutions and private and public companies to address the scale and scope of human trafficking.


More than two hundred years have passed since William Wilberforce successfully led in abolishing the slave trade in Britain. And yet, slavery flourishes to this day, though, unlike two hundred years ago, it is now largely invisible and continues on behind front doors, in factories and on farms, in brothels and on the streets of our towns and cities. Victims of modern slavery are often trapped by forces more subtle than lock and key – indeed they are hidden in plain sight. 

This pernicious trade is neither limited to under developed or developing countries. The EU estimates that there are almost 880,000 people who are forced to work in slave labour conditions across Europe. Latest figures released from the National Crime Agency in September 2014 indicate that numbers of those suspected to be victims in the UK has risen sharply to 2,744 in the first 10 months of the year. Experts acknowledge that this is likely to be the tip of the iceberg. 

Modern slavery is most definitely a victim based crime, against fellow human beings. It destroys an enslaved person and it is carried out by traffickers and enslavers in order to amass illegal profit. The UN and other similar organisations calculate that today the fast-growing trade in people is worth a minimum of US$32 billion a year. This represents either the second or third most profitable of all illicit trades, behind only the illegal drugs trade, and, by some measures, the arms trade.

Cases of modern slavery are being encountered on an increasing basis by Police within the Yorkshire & Humber region which are reflective of those nationwide. Not restricted to metropolitan or urban areas Police are also being alerted to crimes occurring in our rural areas. Locations have included agricultural communities, car washes, nail bars and brothels.

Detective Superintendent Steve Smith, said, “The public and other organisations play a critical role in helping us find victims of human trafficking. We need that information to help identify those amongst us who are victims. The four Yorkshire region police Forces continue to develop our individual and collective approach in working to rescue victims and identify and arrest offenders.”

The Archbishop of York Dr John Sentamu said: “I am glad that the police in Yorkshire & Humber are working determinedly to eradicate human trafficking in our region.  The exploitation of vulnerable people for low-paid labour that is tantamount to slavery is an abomination in our time.  Gandhi once said that “The true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members”. I am sure that the people of Yorkshire & Humber will respond to the police’s request for help in identifying instances of human trafficking with a view to helping those who are so ill-treated”. 

Indicators to help identify victims of trafficking include, but are not restricted to:

  • Has no passport or other means of identification.
  • Is  withdrawn and refuses to talk or appears afraid to talk to a person in authority.
  • Is  unable, or reluctant to give details of accommodation or other personal details.
  • Works in various locations.
  • Has  limited freedom of movement.
  • Performs excessive housework chores and rarely leaves the residence.
  • They have low or no salary or are permanently deprived of a large part of their      earnings by another person.
  • They are escorted whenever they go and or return from work and other      activities.
  • They work long hours or have few, if any, days off.
  • They sleep where they work.
  • They have no privacy, sleeping in shared and over-crowded spaces.
  • Security measures are in place to keep them at the work place, for example locked doors and windows.
  • They are not dressed properly for the work they do, for example they don’t have protective equipment or warm clothes.

If you have any concerns or suspect someone you know may be a victim of human trafficking, contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 and quote Operation Eagle.


Back · Back to top