There has been a fivefold rise in the number of slavery victims in England and Wales since 2012, according to the Salvation Army.
The charity says it has supported 1,805 people from April 2015 to March 2016. That’s compared to 378 referrals between July 2011 and June 2012 – the first year of the government contract to support victims.
In the past five years, the group has helped nearly 4,500 modern slaves, but Home Office figures estimate there are still between 10,000 and 13,000 slaves in the UK.
Almost half of its referrals had been sexually exploited, 42 percent were victims of labor exploitation working within industries such as agriculture and construction, and 13 percent had been held in domestic servitude, the Salvation Army says.
Sixty-two percent were women, 38 percent were male and six transgender people were supported.
The highest number of referrals were Albanian. Large numbers were from Poland, Nigeria and Vietnam, and there was also a “significant proportion” of British citizens.
The Home Office said the rise in reported cases showed efforts to curb modern slavery were working.
Sarah Newtown, minister for safeguarding, vulnerability and countering extremism, told the BBC: “Slavery has been hidden in plain sight, and our policy is designed to encourage more victims to come forward and ask for help.
“We welcome increases in the number of referrals as a sign that our efforts to shine a light on modern slavery are working.”
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