Virtual map converts calls to UK helpline into slavery hotspots

by Kieran Guilbert | KieranG77 | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Monday, 26 November 2018 18:05 GMT

ARCHIVE PHOTO: A woman holds her umbrella as she walks across Westminster Bridge in front of Big Ben in London January 11, 2007. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

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The anti-slavery helpline has received more than 10,000 calls and online reports since it was set up two years ago

By Kieran Guilbert

LONDON, Nov 26 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Calls to Britain's anti-slavery helpline will be mapped to show human-trafficking hotspots in a drive to raise public awareness and hone government spending to combat the crime, the social enterprise behind the project said on Monday.

An online map will allow members of the public and local government bodies to see what percentage of calls to the hotline came from their region, said TISCreport (Transparency in Supply Chains), a business seeking to make profit while doing good.

The anti-slavery helpline has received more than 10,000 calls and online reports indicating 11,000 possible victims - exploited in car washes, building sites, salons and brothels - since being set up in October 2016, said the charity Unseen.

Britain is home to at least 136,000 modern slaves, according to the Global Slavery Index by rights group Walk Free Foundation - a figure 10 times higher than a government estimate from 2013.

"An informative live map that purely presents the facts can help bring this (modern slavery and labour exploitation) alive for many who just can't imagine what is going on right on their doorsteps," said Jaya Chakrabarti, the head of TISCreport.

The 'Transparency Map' also shows which large companies supplying goods to local councils are complying with Britain's landmark 2015 Modern Slavery Act and filing an annual statement outlining their actions to prevent slavery in their operations.

The data will inform people about the prevalence of slavery in Britain and enable public bodies to better coordinate and spend taxpayer money to tackle the crime, Chakrabarti said.

The initiative could one day incorporate police and government data around both traffickers and victims to give a fuller picture of the scourge in Britain, she added.

"It's an ambitious thing we're trying to do - joining compliance at the top all the way down to victims on the ground," Chakrabarti told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

TISCreport said it was monitoring almost 500,000 suppliers to local government bodies - a number that would keep growing.

Only 58 percent of the British government's 100 top suppliers produced an anti-slavery statement in 2017, according to a study by business consultancies Sancroft and Tussell.

"I am delighted to see live data initiatives like the TISCreport map shining a light on those local areas that are stepping up their efforts to address the risks of modern slavery," said Britain's minister for crime Victoria Atkins. (Reporting by Kieran Guilbert, Editing by Jason Fields. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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