From Line of Duty to Coronation Street – popular TV shows are bringing modern slavery to the attention of viewers with dramatic storylines and gripping plots. But, a University of Hull expert warns modern slavery is far from fiction and is happening on your doorstep today.
Line of Duty, which featured an organised crime group profiting from human trafficking, reached an audience of nine million for its final episode on Sunday, the highest overnight audience so far this year.
Whether it’s by challenging people’s commonly-held perceptions of slavery victims and raising awareness of the kind of places they might be working against their will, there is no doubt the programmes are highlighting the plight of those who are forced to work in construction, farming, fishing, nail bars, car washes and hotels.
But according to Dr Alicia Kidd, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hull’s Wilberforce Institute for the study of Slavery and Emancipation, it is important to remember that it isn’t just a storyline in a TV show: “These are real-life situations that are happening all around us. It is our responsibility to be aware of this and if we see something that raises concerns, it is our duty to contact the modern slavery helpline.”
Last year on Human Rights Day, the Wilberforce Institute launched the ‘It’s Time to Break the Chain’ campaign to highlight the plight of modern day slavery victims and to encourage us to think about the experiences of the people working to supply the food we buy.
Dr Kidd’s research looks at modern slavery and considers particularly what makes people vulnerable to this crime which exists in many different forms including sexual, labour and criminal exploitation, domestic servitude and organ harvesting.
Dr Kidd is proactive in promoting the research of the Institute in other sectors, including to members of the public, whose knowledge is vital in identifying situations of modern slavery. As vice chair of the Humber Modern Slavery Partnership, she works closely with practitioners to increase knowledge of modern slavery and improve the response to the issue in better identifying and supporting those who are being exploited. Dr Kidd also works with the Risk Assessment Service at the Wilberforce Institute to support businesses in identifying and mitigating risks of labour exploitation in their supply chains.
If you come across a situation which causes concern and which you think could be tied to modern slavery, you can report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.