‘Our flag is the friendliest flag in the world because no man fears it. Whenever it is seen the slave knows he is free, the oppressed can come for help, and the righteous can call for sympathy’ — Arthur Mee’s Book of the Flag

 

Arthur Mee believed it was imperative to inform all that Britain was an upholder of right and justice, and wrote about slavery as a nefarious act of the past. Given this country’s clandestine human trafficking trade, Mee’s notion looks grotesquely out of place in twenty-first century Britain.

‘Human Trafficking is the movement of people by means such as force, fraud, coercion or deception, with the aim of exploiting them. It is modern-day slavery.’

Human trafficking is one of those issues that bothers people when mentioned, yet very few are aware of the significance of the problem.

Slavery today is in fact a global business and a huge source of income for traffickers and crime syndicates. Ever since 2004, when 23 Chinese cockle pickers drowned in Morecambe Bay, campaigners have revealed a detrimental human trafficking problem in the United Kingdom.

According to the National Referral Mechanism statistics published in December 2015, ‘during the three-month period from April to June 2015, there were 757 referrals of adults and minors to the NRM. These referrals comprise individuals from 61 countries of origin. Of the 757 people referred to the NRM during this period, 167 (22%) received a “positive conclusive decision” and were therefore found to have been trafficked’. If nothing else, this distressing fact is a stark indication that modern slavery endures, and it is happening in our communities.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, published in 1948 states: ‘No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms’. With this in mind, it is difficult to believe that human trafficking is such a colossal problem in the UK, with a shocking 13,000 victims estimated by the Home Office.

Following many campaigns and investigations in recent years, the Government has been working with the EU in order to combat trafficking. Home Office Minister Paul Goggins said: ‘Human trafficking is an appalling crime — a form of modern day slavery. It is a key priority during our Presidency of the EU and today’s seminar with Eurojust is an important step in bringing together all those involved in the prosecution of serious organised crime and ensuring greater EU cooperation in tackling people trafficking’. The Crown Prosecution Service has also stated that: ‘It is believed that human trafficking is the third most profitable activity for organised crime after drugs and arms dealing’.

Europe’s refugee crisis is worsening, and according to political commentators and MPs, it constitutes a dire threat. In truth, the countries that have been most affected by the increase in refugees are far from our shores. The impact on Europe is but a fragment of the crisis arising from hostilities existing in the near and Middle East, and sub-Saharan Africa. Brian Donald, Europol’s Chief of Staff stated that: ‘Modern, enterprising, organised criminal gangs go where the opportunity is high and the risk is low’ … ‘Newly arrived refugees and migrants are being “identified for exploitation, especially those of a young age, young women and the unaccompanied”, to be forced into prostitution and slave labour’.

Considering this, it is incredibly likely that the current figures of human trafficking in the UK will increase, and this is why the UK Government must act accordingly to prevent this abhorrent crime from continuing any longer.

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