A CHRISTIAN anti-trafficking charity helped to rescue 57 victims
of modern slavery last year in the UK, and said this week that it
planned to increase its work.
Hope for Justice, which was founded in 2009, runs regional
"hubs" of investigators who rescue and rehabilitate those who have
been trafficked. In 2013, their first hub, in the north-east,
assisted 104 victims, and helped to rescue 57.
Gareth Russell, who runs Hope for Justice's partnerships with
churches, said: "We are going to open another hub in the Midlands
soon, and we're aiming to have nine in total - one for each police
region - over the next few years."
Each hub has about half a dozen investigators who train
churches, social services, and other groups so that they can spot
potential victims of human trafficking. When these organisations
report possible victims to Hope for Justice, the investigators then
place the alleged traffickers under surveillance. If there is
evidence of trafficking, they refer the situation to the
Hope for Justice said that last year they trained 729 people in
dealing with human trafficking. They also provided legal advice and
support for victims, and have successfully appealed against
decisions to cut benefits for those who have been rescued from
There are no reliable statistics on how many people are held in
modern slavery in the UK, but Mr Russell said that the usual police
figure of 2000 to 5000 was probably too low.
The tide is turning, however. Mr Russell said that the issue of
human trafficking was far more prominent in the media than it used
to be, and that churches, especially, were more aware of
"I work with churches to help build the rescue network. It's not
exclusively an urban crime: it's a rural issue as well, with a lot
of forced labour on farms, for instance," he said.
Besides raising awareness, churches could also pray for Hope for
Justice, Mr Russell said. "We are going into some dark places, and
we need to have the prayer support."
Hope for Justice's next Hope Conference is in September this
year, in Leicester.