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The top 20 source non-UK countries for modern slavery in the UK

Research Summary for internationally focused actors

This is a Research Summary of the report The top 20 source countries for modern slavery in the UK, for internationally focused actors, with a separate Research Summary looking at the implications of the research for UK-focused actors. The report was funded by the Modern Slavery and Human Rights Policy and Evidence Centre (Modern Slavery PEC) and developed by a collaboration of researchers from the Right Lab at the University of Nottingham and the Wilberforce Institute at the University of Hull. You can find the full report on the Rights Lab website.

Although potential victims from a significant proportion of the world’s countries have been referred into the UK’s National Referral Mechanism (NRM) since its inception, a small group of countries have consistently represented the majority of cases. From 2013-2019, the top twenty non-UK source countries have represented almost 70% of all referrals into the NRM.

The research considered the top twenty non-UK countries of origin for potential victims of modern slavery referred into the UK’s NRM. It explored key demographic features of these potential victims, considering the different profiles of potential victims across the different nationality groups, as well as the different journeys and experiences of modern slavery survivors in the UK. To understand these experiences and trends, the research considered the contextual conditions, national modern slavery profiles, and anti-slavery governance frameworks operating in the source country contexts.

Key findings:

  • There are a number of shared drivers of modern slavery across the 20 source countries, many of which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Various shortcomings in anti-slavery laws and policies, victim support and safeguarding mechanisms in source countries must be addressed to reduce people’s vulnerability to modern slavery and provide effective protection and support for victims.
  • There is a need for greater intervention in transit countries for individuals being trafficked to the UK, or at risk of such.

Authors: Katarina Schwarz, Ana Valverde Cano, Alexandra Williams-Woods, Daniel Ogunniyi.