RISING cases of modern day slavery including the exploitation of car wash workers and vulnerable people pushed into the sex trade in Barnsley will result in more work being done to tackle the problem, the Chronicle can reveal.
According to a report, which will be discussed by ruling cabinet members on Wednesday, identified cases increased by 84 per cent between 2016 and 2018.
Partnership work is set to take place across the borough as a result through the ‘Snowdrop Project’, which will provide long-term support for victims in Barnsley in the coming weeks having secured funding.
Cabinet members are also set to sign a multi-council charter against modern slavery alongside Sheffield, Rotherham, Bradford, Calderdale and Kirklees due to its tendency to involve organised crime groups moving from county to county.
It comes after some car wash workers in Barnsley were found to be earning just £50 for a 13-hour shift - which equates to £3.85 an hour - well below the £4.35 minimum which has to be paid by law to under 18s and less than half the £8.21 over 25s should expect as their minimum hourly rate.
The report said: “Labour exploitation remains the most frequently reported form of exploitation for both adults and minors and the most commonly reported nationalities across the UK are Albanian, Vietnamese, Chinese and Romanian.
“Victims are often kept in unsanitary and inappropriate premises which are detrimental to health, such as living on site at car washes or inside cannabis ‘farms’.
“Modern day slavery, trafficking and exploitation are very much an emerging picture in Barnsley and, as our awareness increases, we have been able to identify cases ranging from exploitation by rogue landlords, to car wash workers, and people brought here to work in the sex trade.
“Modern day slavery impacts on the most vulnerable in our communities, therefore, any activities to reduce and eliminate slavery will increase inclusion and help all communities to settle in Barnsley.
“Slavery and trafficking are often a result of poverty where victims are promised a better life with more money.
“Addressing this will help to reduce the impact of poverty.”
Northern College, based at Wentworth Castle, pioneered a course which provides education to victims - called Free Thinking - which has been backed by Barnsley East MP Stephanie Peacock who has called for more funding to be provided to allow the initiative to be rolled out.
She chaired a meeting with police bosses from South and West Yorkshire at Barnsley Town Hall last year to discuss ways local issues are dealt with.
She added: “Modern slavery is an absolutely appalling practice where people here in Barnsley are forced into work without pay and life without freedom.
“I’m proud of the efforts of Barnsley’s Northern College in addressing this issue and providing an innovative blueprint for how to fully support survivors right across the country.
“It’s staggering that this is still so widespread in the UK in the 21st century and it’s so important that we do all we can to fight it.”
Coun Jenny Platts, cabinet spokesperson, said: “I’m proud of the proposal to sign the agreement against modern slavery to make sure our communities can feel safe and secure while living, working and visiting in our borough.
“Part of our commitment is to make sure that everyone is safe from harm, which includes taking a strong stance on illegal activity.”
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Action pledged on modern day slavery menace
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