New app launched to crackdown on modern slavery

Merseyside / July 30

To mark World Day against Trafficking, Merseyside’s Deputy Police Commissioner is supporting the launch of a new app designed to help stamp out modern slavery in the UK at the click of a button.

Cllr Emily Spurrell, who is Chair of Merseyside’s recently relaunched Modern Slavery Network has welcomed the creation of the Unseen App which provides a simple guide to recognising the signs of modern slavery, and makes reporting it to the national reporting helpline as easy as a click of a button. The app was developed for Unseen by the Helpline’s founding partner BT and can be found by searching ‘Unseen UK’ in app stores now.

The Modern Slavery helpline was set up by leading anti-slavery charity Unseen working with the government in the autumn of 2016. Figures show that there were twice as many calls and online reports to it in the first half of this year with 3,300 compared to 1,500 in the same six months the year before.

The National Crime Agency estimates that there are tens of thousands of people being held in modern slavery in the UK, trapped in situations such as forced labour, domestic servitude or sex exploitation. The real number may be far higher.

Cllr Emily Spurrell said: “We know of the tens of thousands of people who are believed to be trafficked in and out of the country every year, only a small proportion of these cases are brought to the attention of the police and other agencies.

“We need the public’s help if we are to find and rescue more vulnerable people who are being trafficked by modern-day slavers.  Any new tool which encourages and enables members of the community to get information to the authorities is very welcome and this app makes it easier than ever for people to learn about the tell-tale warning signs that someone is being exploited and to report their concerns.”

Andrew Wallis, CEO of Unseen, said: “Traffickers are using ever-more sophisticated technology to control and exploit their victims. It is crucial that those of us combating modern slavery must innovate too. Whether that is technology for businesses to map their supply chains, or an app for everyone to have in their pocket at the nail bar, car wash or takeaway, this isn’t just a gimmick, it’s an essential part of the fight to eradicate slavery.”

Unseen is a UK-wide national charity which believes that modern slavery can and must be eradicated. As well as running the Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre, Unseen runs safe houses for men, women and children who are survivors of trafficking, and works with the police, health workers, government, businesses and others to help prevent and protect against modern slavery.

Unseen’s Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre launched in October 2016. It is a 24/7 helpline, open every day of the year, including weekends and bank holidays. The Helpline is free to call, independent and confidential; callers need not provide their name or details if they prefer not to do so.

On calls, Helpline Advisers - who have received extensive specialist training - ask strategic questions to gather crucial information to make a risk assessment and form a case response, which may include signposting a caller, safety planning on the phone, or sending a referral to police, local authorities or other NGOs. The Unseen App puts callers through to the Helpline, or allows them to fill in a Helpline webform.