Reducing worker exploitation

25 May 2018

The UK has been described as being one of the main destinations of trafficked workers in Europe.

In 2017, 5,145 potential victims of modern slavery were submitted to the NRM, a 35% increase compared with 2016. Albanian, British and Vietnamese were the top reported nationalities in both years and the most frequent type of exploitation for both adults and minors was labour exploitation.

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) has published a report ‘The Nature and Scale of Labour Exploitation across all Sectors within the United Kingdom’ which relays the industries where exploitation is most prevalent and the nationalities that are most at risk.

Analysis of GLAA intelligence shows that for the UK overall, most intelligence relates to the Agriculture sector. Breaking it down into nations:

  • for Northern Ireland, where known, potential victims are most frequently recorded as working in the Poultry & Eggs sector;
  • for Scotland, where known, potential victims are most frequently recorded as working in the agricultural sector (Vegetables and Miscellaneous); and
  • for Wales, where known, potential victims are most frequently recorded as working in the shellfish gathering sector.

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee reported on the Victims of modern slavery in April 2017 and an acute assessment of the execution of the provisions of the Modern Slavery Act was made by The Public Accounts Committee in its final report, Reducing modern slavery in April 2018. Recommendations from this report include:

  • In order to effectively track whether its Modern Slavery Strategy is working and prioritise funding and activities, the Home Office should set targets, actions, a means of tracking resources, and clear roles and responsibilities within the programme and report back to the Committee by December 2018.


  • The Home Office should continue its work to gain a better understanding of the crime, the victims and the perpetrators, in order to target its prevention work effectively. It must take account of the potential impact of other factors such as the exit from the EU.


  • The Home Office should take immediate action to ensure that its Transparency in Supply Chains legislation is more effective. It needs to drive up compliance, by actively administering and monitoring compliance and should write to us by April 2019 setting out what progress it has made and its latest estimate of compliance and demonstrating how this is improving transparency.


  • By January 2019 the Home Office should ensure that the reformed NRM system enables it to collect and analyse data to understand the crime, the businesses and the sectors where prevalence is highest, and, where victims consent, to understand what happens to victims after they leave the NRM.


  • Within six months, the Home Office should write to the Committee setting out what actions the competent authorities are taking to reduce the time potential victims wait for a decision, and how the reformed NRM will reduce decision making times further, including what the target time for a conclusive decision will be.


  • The Home Office needs to work with the National Crime Agency, the Crown Prosecution Service, the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Police and Crime Commissioners, local police forces and local authorities to urgently develop a set of clear, practical steps and good practice guidance to understand why there are regional variations in tackling the issue and how these can be reduced.

The Prime Minister told the Work and Pensions Committee that her government was committed to doing everything possible to support victims of modern slavery. To achieve the Prime Minister’s objectives, the Committee state that the government must now be thinking, as imaginatively as possible, about developing a mark two stage of policies to follow up on its world-leading 2015 Modern Slavery Act.