Human trafficking in the UK; how much does the British media care?

January 01, 1970 by Rebecca Gillingham

According to figures released by the National Crime Agency in August, 566 possible cases of human trafficking were recorded in the UK between January and March this year - almost 50 a week. The majority of victims came from Albania, but there were also substantial numbers of Slovakians, Nigerians and Vietnamese.

Last year, 1,746 potential trafficking victims were found in the UK - an increase of 47 per cent on the previous 12 months and the trend shows no sign of slowing. With shocking statistics like these, how is the UK media responding?

In August, there were 542 articles relating to Human Trafficking, according to the LexisNexis Human Trafficking Awareness Index™ data model. That compares with only 342 in July, representing a 162% increase in relevant articles. To better understand this increase, a quick look at the data through Nexis Analyser shows a significant peak of reporting during Week 34 (August 18, 2014 - August 24, 2014).


The human traffickers with an eye on Britain

The peak for the UK reporting corresponds to the reporting concerning the 35 Afghan Sikhs found by dock workers in a shipping container in Tilbury Docks. The Independent reported that Meet Singh Kapoor, 40, from Afghanistan, was found dead inside the container. Other members of the 34-strong group, including 13 children, survived the ordeal. The group is believed to have fled Afghanistan after suffering persecution. Their ages ranged from one to 72.

Almost 50 victims of human trafficking are discovered in the UK each week, Government figures have shown and this recent case highlights the issue of people smuggling.

In the UK, trafficking for labour exploitation largely impacts on sectors with a large number of migrant workers in their supply chain such as construction, catering, industrial, logistics, hospitality, cleaning, food processing and agriculture.

The Modern Slavery Bill (see our earlier blog), which the government intends to pass before the general election, is aimed at enabling law enforcement to combat the problem more effectively. Existing legislation is consolidated and simplified within the Act, with the intention of providing greater clarity and focus for those prosecuting traffickers and others involved. The Bill proposes harsher punishments, such as increasing the maximum sentence available for offenders to life imprisonment, whilst introducing crucial new tools to restrict the activity of people already convicted of modern slavery offences. Police powers to recover the proceeds of modern slavery crime have also been extended in the hope that this will also deter future offenders.

The LexisNexis Human Trafficking Awareness Index

The July 2014 Human Trafficking Awareness Index for the UK stood at 162% which reflects 542 trafficking-related articles published by the British and Irish media during August 2014 compared to 342 the previous month.

The LexisNexis Human Trafficking Awareness Index™ data model highlights emerging trends and patterns of awareness within and across national borders. The Index uses the respected Nexis® service to track and analyse the volume of articles related to human trafficking. Using a licensed collection of almost 6,000 of the most influential news sources from more than 120 countries, the HTA Index highlights emerging trends and patterns of awareness within and across national borders. Activists working to combat human trafficking can use this information to highlight and raise awareness to inform their efforts and gain greater understanding of the news.