‘The Prosecutors: Modern Day Slavery’ (BBC iPlayer catch-up) highlights the troubling rise of modern slavery – reported to be up by 275% in the UK – involving both adults and children.
It’s relevance to the beauty business is chiefly with nail bars, where many victims of human trafficking appear to end up, but barber shops are an emerging concern alongside the growth of the male grooming sector.
The exact number of victims involved in this crime is unclear: the Home Office think some 13,000 people could be affected, but separate research by Freedom United suggests the number could be nearer 136,000.
It’s a challenging crime to police, not least because the victims often don’t see themselves as such – they’re vulnerable but not always particularly unhappy with their lives. While the police are working to raise awareness of modern slavery, it’s incumbent on us to be more observant about what is going on in the business around us.
For example, if you visit a nail bar, ask yourself if the staff look tired, frightened or vulnerable; whether they can speak any English and how old they appear to be. Forced labour is a pernicious, despicable crime designed to make money from someone’s vulnerability. So if you think someone is being exploited the police urge you to report it to 101.