Businesses urged to heed National Crime Agency’s warning on modern slavery

The National Crime Agency (NCA) has today warned that the scale of modern slavery and human trafficking in the UK is likely to be ‘increasing steadily’, a finding which places greater risks on businesses.

The NCA’s latest annual assessment of crime risk notes that the number of victims and offenders is likely to be increasing. While the report acknowledges that the true scale of modern slavery and human trafficking within the UK is unknown, it notes the latest Home Office figures which suggest there could be up to 13,000 victims.

The NCA’s warning is particularly relevant to businesses with a global annual turnover of £36m or more. Since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act, businesses have to demonstrate the action they are taking to eradicate modern slavery and human trafficking within their own business or supply chains. 

Nicki Barnes, client services HR director at RSM said:

‘Businesses would do well to take note of the NCA’s latest warning on modern slavery, a crime which is more prevalent than many people realise. Under the Modern Slavery Act 2015, companies must ensure they have adequate arrangements and can evidence measures to prevent the use of illegal, trafficked or slave labour.  

‘Companies most at risk are those with a high proportion of low-skilled labour, a high percentage of migrants or minorities in the workforce and those that use agencies for recruiting workers. 

‘Simple steps such as ensuring all staff have the right to work in the UK and have a written contract of employment, undertaking vetting of agencies and checking to see if there are common addresses or bank details can all help flag the possibility of trafficking and slavery. 

‘Failure to comply with the rules can result in reputational damage and unlimited financial penalties.’

For more information please contact Steve Sweetlove.