People suffering criminal exploitation, often young British boys, must be recognised as victims of modern slavery, a new report has argued.
Entitled Criminal exploitation: Modern slavery by another name, the report found that 45% of victims in the UK are British boys aged 17 and under, with risk factors including deprivation, substance misuse, family circumstances, learning disabilities and school exclusion.
Victims of criminal exploitation are ‘forced, coerced or groomed into committing crime for someone else’s benefit’, the report by the Centre for Social Justice and Justice and Care says.
However, it says professionals, families and victims themselves ‘frequently do not apply the label of “modern slavery” (nor even exploitation in some cases) to what is happening’.
Legislation and policy are ‘inconsistent’, ‘incomplete’ and ‘confusing’, while support for victims and prevention is inadequate, despite good work done by some charities, local authorities and the Government’s County Lines programme, the report found.
It calls for the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to be amended to include a definition of criminal exploitation.
The independent anti-slavery commissioner, Eleanor Lyons, said: ‘This report rightly calls on the Government and frontline policing to make sure criminal exploitation is prosecuted for what it is: a form of modern slavery.
‘This will also allow us to do more to prevent the endless stream of young people and vulnerable adults being pulled into criminal exploitation. And give them the support they deserve.’