Recent statistics from the National Crime Agency show that 27 per cent of potential slavery victims are trafficked into labour exploitation, and the hospitality industry is one of the industries targeted by traffickers.
In 2013, seven forced labour victims referred to services came from the restaurant and bar sector. As well as this, four per cent of victims (44 people) trafficked for sexual exploitation were abused in hotels.
The Home Office said the actual numbers of victims in the industry could be much higher, due to the hidden nature of such crimes, and has urged hotels and restaurant to make proper background checks on any agencies which supply them with labour.
How to spot potential victims:
According to the campaign, victims of modern slavery in the hospitality sector are often Eastern European men and women, promised a job in the UK and forced by traffickers to work for little or no money. They are frequently forced to live in squalid accommodation and have identity documents taken from them.
In order to spot potential victims, the Home Office issued the following guidelines for hospitality businesses:
- Legal documents
Ensure that potential employees are in possession of their own legal documents and that these are not being held by someone else. Victims are often made to use forged documents.
Check for a group of workers that have their pay go into the same bank account, which may be the sign of an illegal gangmaster collecting all wages.
Look out for a group of workers dropped off or picked up at unusual times of the day or taken to the same location.
Watch for workers who appear malnourished, unkempt or withdrawn, as well as those suffering injuries. Those who have few personal possessions or often wear the same clothes may also be victims.
Notice those who seem withdrawn or frightened and those who are unable to answer direct questions. Check that the information they provide is consistent, including basic facts like the address they live at. Watch for those under the control of colleagues, as well as those who rarely interact with others.
- Medical Care
Look out for those with untreated injuries, or those with vague explanations of how an injury occurred.
- Fear of authorities
Those who are afraid of authorities could be victims, scared of removal or for their families.
- Debt bondage
Notice if the employee believes themselves indebted to someone or if they are in a dependent situation.
Responding to the campaign, deputy chief executive at the British Hospitality Association Martin Couchman OBE said: “The safety and protection of both employees and guests is critical for our industry.
“Although we do not believe that modern slavery is an issue affecting the industry in the UK, a number of our members have signed up to the International Tourism Partnership, which provides a code on how to spot and deal with modern slavery around the world.
“We support this along with the effective enforcement of UK Government laws against illegal working.”