Is Leicester a Hotspot for Human Trafficking?

Human trafficking is happening around the world, but would you recognise it in your community? If you see or hear anything suspicious, it is essential that you share this information with the authorities. If you think someone is at immediate risk from traffickers or held in modern slavery – please contact the police urgently or call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.

The facts

STOP THE TRAFFIK’s Centre for Intelligence-Led Prevention (CfILP) is conducting research into global human trafficking trends. It is often overlooked that every country, regardless of its level of economic development, is affected by the clandestine crimes of human trafficking and modern slavery.

The CfILP’s research has identified Leicester and the East Midlands as destinations for trafficking victims.  Individuals are predominantly transported from:

  • Eastern and Central Europe
  • South East Asia
  • Southern Asia
  • Within the UK

They are subjected to sexual and labour exploitation, commonly in domestic servitude, cleaning, catering, food processing, construction, garment manufacturing and cannabis cultivation.

Many factors contribute to the vulnerability of people to trafficking, including:

  • Socio-economic or domestic circumstances
  • Psychological condition
  • Immigration status
  • English language ability

Trafficked persons are controlled through physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse; confiscation of identity documents; social isolation and restricted movement; debt bondage and financial dependence; threats to family members; and absence of employment contracts.

Key cases

Leicester is a garment manufacturing hub; it has the largest share of the UK garment manufacturing industry in terms of aggregated gross value added. One unfortunate by-product of this is that it has incentivised the forced relocation and exploitation of workers. In 2015, a research report by the University of Leicester revealed that some 2,500 workers in Leicester’s garment sector worked in appalling conditions for less than half the minimum wage.

Enderby, Leicestershire, was one of the sites where the Connors family held trafficked people that were forced to work in construction and heavy manual labouring. They exploited homeless and vulnerable men, earning up to £5 million while refusing to pay their victims and subjecting them to inhumane conditions and frequent beatings.

Drug trade illustration showing various types of narcoticsRecent raids of cannabis farms at Thorpe Astley and Mountcastle Road show that cannabis cultivation occurs in Leicester. UK law enforcement agencies have consistently drawn a link between cannabis farms and modern slavery, with South East Asian gangs trafficking ‘gardeners’ into the UK where they are coerced into illegal drug production.

Our objective

The objective of STOP THE TRAFFIK is to help communities become more resilient to trafficking through increased awareness. We aim to shine a light so that slavery is exposed and traffickers can no longer operate. We can only achieve our goals with the cooperation and assistance of local people and organisations. Learn how to spot the signs here. Every day, more people are joining the fight to eradicate this horrific crime by sharing any information or suspicions they may have with us. You can do the same by downloading the STOP APP and confidentially and anonymously sharing anything you have seen or heard that may be linked to human trafficking.

You can also share information with us via the STOP APP on Google Play or the App Store, and share your story. All information is important and may be part of a bigger picture.

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