Redbridge child slavery referrals third highest in London, latest figures show

Redbridge Council informed the National Crime Agency of 21 potential cases of modern slavery in 2018

Redbridge Council informed the National Crime Agency of 21 potential cases of modern slavery in 2018. Picture: Anna Gowthorpe - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Redbridge is ranked third highest in London for the number of potential child slavery victims it referred to the authorities last year.

Data from the National Crime Agency (NCA), analysed by the Recorder, shows that Redbridge Council informed the agency of 21 potential cases of modern slavery in 2018.

Twenty of the referrals related to minors and one related to an adult. In 2016, the borough had only one referral and was ranked joint 18th alongside 10 other boroughs.

However, it jumped to third place the following year when 20 referrals were made – all relating to minors.

Croydon tops the table this year by a long margin with 45 referrals, followed by Lambeth with 23.

Across the country 6,993 potential victims were referred to the system – up from 5,104 last year and 3,804 the year before.

NCA deputy director Roy McComb welcomed this increase in a statement released last week, attributing it to “greater awareness” and “understanding” of modern slavery.

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But added: “The more we look the more we find, and it is likely these figures represent only a snapshot of the true scale of slavery and trafficking in the UK.

“Of particular concern is the increase in referrals made for ‘county lines’ type exploitation.

“These are often vulnerable individuals – often children - who are exploited by criminal gangs for the purposes of drug trafficking.

“Our understanding of the threat is much greater than it was a few years ago, and modern slavery remains a high priority for law enforcement, with around 1,500 criminal investigations currently live in the UK.

“But we cannot stop modern slavery alone, we need support and assistance from across the public and private sectors, NGOs and most of all the public themselves.”

At the national level, potential victims were identified from 130 different countries.

British citizens made up the majority, followed by Albanians and Vietnamese.

Redbridge Council has been approached for comment.

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