The Metropolitan police have said the number of victims of modern slavery is expected to jump 60 per cent this year in London.
Head of the Met’s modern slavery and kidnap unit, DCI Phil Brewer, said the force expects as many as 1,600 cases of human trafficking to be reported in the capital this year, reports the Guardian.
The 60 per cent increase follows the massive 260 per cent rise in the number of suspected trafficking victims referred to police in 2016 compared to the previous year.
“They are wide-ranging referrals in terms of what victims have been through … some cases are incredibly traumatic,” he told a conference at City Hall.
Despite Prime Minister Theresa May having promised to lead the fight against modern-day slavery, which culminated in the Modern Day Slavery Act 2015, campaigners say many potential cases are still being missed.
The Human Trafficking Foundation’s Tamara Barnett said: “Victims are not being identified. When they are being identified, they are not being protected and criminals are getting away with their abuse.”
“Modern slavery is something of a new buzzword,” she added. “But with human trafficking, we are where we were with domestic violence 25 years ago or [female genital mutilation] five or ten years ago.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the capital’s deputy mayor for policing and crime, Sophie Linden, has established a modern slavery steering group which will meet for the first time this summer.
“This is a crime that we can only solve by working together,” said Khan, adding: “Modern slavery touches on the work of so many sectors across London and nationally.”
Appearing on LBC Thursday morning, the Labour mayor rejected a caller’s claim that mass immigration causes problems in Britain, and praised pro-migration attitudes in Britain’s capital.
“The reason why London is different from other parts of the country is that London chose to remain in the European Union, so we need immigration and we want it.”
“I accept though, Margaret, some parts of the country don’t want immigration even though they may need it,” Khan added.
A BBC investigation this week found Eastern European crime gangs are repeatedly trafficking women into sexual exploitation and forcing them into sham marriages with men — mainly from Pakistan — wanting UK residency.
The state broadcasting company heard from human trafficking expert Jim Laird there was a “clear link” between Eastern European crime gangs and Asian organised crime in Glasgow.
Head of Europol’s human trafficking unit, Angelika Molnar, said victims were lured from poverty and deprivation in countries such as Romania and Slovakia with the prospect of a well-paid job in Scotland.
“It’s only upon arrival that they are told there is no work available and they have to be engaged in marriages with Pakistani men.
“After the marriage, the women are kept under control by the traffickers and are exploited as domestic service by the husband but also raped and sexually exploited by fellow nationals of the traffickers,” she said.