2nd December marks International Day for the Abolition of Slavery. Worldwide, an estimated 40.3 million people are in modern slavery. Recent high profile cases here in Lincolnshire remind us that modern slavery practices such as forced labour, debt bondage, forced marriage, and human trafficking are found very much close to home. In the UK, forced labour accounts for around 30% of all exploitation. Tackling this heinous crime requires a concerted approach from law enforcement agencies, civil society and private business.
One such agency, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) was set up following the tragic deaths of 23 Chinese cockle pickers on 5 February 2004 in Morecambe Bay in the North West of England. The GLAA regulates the suppliers of labour to the farming, food processing and packaging and shellfish gathering sectors. More recently, the GLAA gained new powers and alongside its regulatory function also works with law enforcement partners to identify, disrupt and dismantle serious and organised criminality, people trafficking and other crimes whereby criminals ‘seek to exploit human assets for profit’.
Partnership working is an integral component to the work of the GLAA both in the UK and overseas and, with the help of its partners, it remains fully committed to the cause of protecting vulnerable workers from exploitation.