David Sillifant, of Safer Cornwall’s Serious and Organised Crime partnership has circulated a document about Modern Slavery in Cornwall, asking members of the third sector to be aware, and ensure that they know what to do if they suspect a person is a victim of modern slavery.

He writes:

I wonder how many of you read the analysis published in the last month by the Local Government Association of the Modern Slavery referral statistics for 2018 which have been released by the National Crime Agency? 1342 suspected victims were referred by councils through the National Referral Mechanism in 2018, compared to only 153 in 2013. The “spiralling rate of Council referrals “ (the LGA’s own words) increased by 70% over the previous year: and by 221% over 2016.

The total number of suspected victims referred via the National Referral Mechanism from all agencies in 2018 however is astonishing. In total, 6,993 individuals were referred – of whom 3856 were adults, and 3,137 minors.   With both adults and minors, labour exploitation was the most frequent form taken by Modern Slavery, followed by sexual exploitation. Disturbingly, organ harvesting cases were found amongst both adult and minor suspected victims.

There are two particular points that should be made from the NCA’s statistics:

  1. The largest number of suspected victims were British. They outnumbered the second most common nationality by roughly 60%.
  2. Cornwall is not immune from Modern Slavery. Devon and Cornwall Police referred 54 suspected victims to the NRM, and this included cases from Cornwall. This figure was higher than several other Police forces.

One point that the statistics do not bring out, but has been evidenced elsewhere, is that individuals with learning difficulties, or mental health issues, are particularly vulnerable to exploitation; and this can be perpetrated on them by people living in their own community.

Cornwall has a robust multi agency mechanism for both making referrals and providing practical support for victims of Modern Slavery: and the reported number of referrals are in some way a result of that mechanism’s effectiveness. Third sector organisations are an essential component of that mechanism; as indeed they are nationally.

If anyone has a concern that an individual (or individuals) might possibly be victims of Modern Slavery, they should contact one of the Modern Slavery Operational Leads for Cornwall. They are Miles Topham miles.topham@devonandcornwall.pnn.police.uk , and Steve Rowell Steve.Rowell@cornwall.gov.uk  You should, however, also always follow Child/Adult Safeguarding Procedures .

If anyone has a more general concern about Modern Slavery issues, you can also contact either of the two named Leads above; or I am happy to raise topics on your behalf at the next meeting of Safer Cornwall’s Serious and Organised Crime Partnership, which meets on the 24 April and has Modern Slavery as one of its highest priorities.

David Sillifant


In addition, you can find more information about Modern Slavery at the Clewer Initiative’s website.


You can also find out more about identifying modern slavery in rural areas by downloading this toolkit.  Also available via the Preventing Exploitation website.