New research from the Home Office has revealed the cost of modern slavery in the UK could be as high as £4.3billion annually, an average of just under £330,000 per victim.
This is the first ever estimate of the cost and is contained in an analysis of three forms of modern slavery – labour exploitation, domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.
The figure is primarily made up of law enforcement costs, along with health service costs and the cost of treating victims due to emotional and physical harm they experience.
It comes as the Home Office yesterday announced a major review into the Modern Slavery Act as the research also showed criminal gangs are finding new ways to exploit victims.
The independent review will be run by Frank Field MP, Maria Miller MP and Baroness Butler-Sloss, the former President of the Family Division at the High Court.
It will aim to strengthen the current law as well as accelerating progress from Government and businesses in eradicating modern slavery.
Last week, new figures from the Australian based Walk Free Foundation found the number of people in modern slavery in the UK was now estimated to be 136,000 – ten times higher than previously thought.
CARE, a leading anti-trafficking charity today welcomed the review.
CARE’s Senior Policy Officer – Human Trafficking, Louise Gleich said:
“The UK took a major step forward when it introduced dedicated anti-trafficking laws for the first time in nearly 200 years back in 2015.
“But the grim reality of modern slavery is as real and prevalent as ever before and we need to make sure our laws are fit for purpose.
“So this independent review is welcome and hopefully, the time invested in examining our current laws will lead to them being significantly strengthened.
“Human traffickers work across international borders and the evidence suggests they are finding new ways to exploit people.
“With the number of estimated people trapped in modern slavery in the UK now ten times higher than previously thought, the need for action could not be clearer.
“Modern slavery robs people of their rights, dignity and freedom. It is a burning injustice and it is right that the Government takes all necessary steps to tackle this global problem.”