UK Prime Minister Theresa May has raised the government’s budget to fight modern slavery, saying thousands of people have fallen victim to the issue in Britain.
“This government is determined to build a Great Britain that works for everyone and will not tolerate modern slavery, an evil trade that shatters victims’ lives and traps them in a cycle of abuse,” May said, announcing a £33 million boost to London’s anti-slavery efforts.
Government estimates suggest that up to 13,000 people may be subject to slavery in Britain today.
“Last year I introduced the world-leading Modern Slavery Act to send the strongest possible signal that victims were not alone and that those responsible for this vile exploitation would face justice,” the premier noted.
The announcement came days after British anti-slavery commissioner Kevin Hyland expressed concerns over the country’s failure to adequately probe reports of human trafficking and modern slavery.
“The real concern that I have is that in 2015 we had 986 cases involving minors, yet the official figures show … only 928 actual crime recorded incidents. That means … potentially the cases involving minors are not being investigated properly,” Hyland said during a BBC interview on Saturday.
There are an estimated 35.8 million victims of modern slavery in the world today, while global human trafficking is estimated to cost £113 billion a year. According to the British daily Guardian, human trade for sexual exploitation believed to cost the UK as much as £890 million a year.
Modern Slavery Partnership, an anti-slavery organization in the UK, suggests that almost 1,500 children have been identified in the country as potential human trafficking victims since 2009.
The organization defines modern slaves as people who are “forced to work or are owned and controlled by an employer; dehumanized and treated as a commodity or property; or have restrictions placed on their freedom of movement.”
“We must do more and the historic £33.5 million will allow us to go even further to support victims,” May said in her interview.