UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre
In December 2015, Polaris, UK Home Secretary Theresa May, and Google.org announced a plan to launch an enhanced UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Polaris issued a request for proposals from UK non-governmental organisations (NGOs) interested in operating it. Polaris is a global anti-human trafficking organisation based in Washington, DC that operates the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) hotline for the United States.
As the NGO selected to operate the UK’s Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre, Unseen has been receiving technical support from Polaris in planning for the launch and during the early months of handling calls about cases of modern slavery within the UK. After launching in late 2016, victims and survivors of modern slavery can contact the Centre to learn about their options and to be connected to support services. The enhanced helpline is gathering information about all types of modern slavery and human trafficking of both UK and foreign nationals. Additionally, it collects data about how and where modern slavery is happening to identify trends and better understand the scale and nature of the crime. Google.org is providing £1 million in funding to cover Unseen’s start-up and operating costs to establish the enhanced UK helpline and Polaris’s role as a technical partner.
“We are delighted to be working with Polaris to significantly enhance the UK’s fight against modern slavery. Victims will be able to safely seek the help and information they urgently need. Members of the public will be able to report potential and suspected incidences of modern slavery and trafficking,” said Andrew Wallis OBE, CEO of Unseen. “The enhanced helpline significantly increases the UK’s capability of dealing with the scourge of modern slavery and increased data and understanding of the problem will enable a more targeted and proactive response to the crime. Modern slavery is global; therefore, we will work with victims, NGOs, and law enforcement agencies from the outset to ensure this helpline is used to help as many victims as possible as we work towards a world without slavery.”
“The UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre represents a major leap forward in support for victims of modern slavery. It will give victims the confidence to come forward, knowing that they will be listened to and helped out of their exploitation,” Minister for Preventing Abuse Exploitation and Crime Karen Bradley said. “This innovative approach between Polaris and Unseen, funded by Google, is precisely the kind of collaboration that will help us to stamp out slavery. I commend the ambition behind this project and I know that Polaris and Unseen will work closely with other NGOs, law enforcement agencies and partners to make it a success - helping more victims to escape and recover from their ordeal and seeing the perpetrators of slavery brought to justice."
“Unseen is a leader in the fight against modern slavery and their expertise will be instrumental as they enhance the UK Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre. We look forward to supporting their work to strengthen the safety net for survivors in the UK,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. “Human trafficking is a global business that requires a global response and helplines are essential to ensure victims can be connected to the help and support they need."
"Google.org is proud to support the launch of the enhanced modern slavery helpline in the UK," said Jacquelline Fuller, Director of Google.org. “Connecting and supporting anti-human trafficking helplines throughout the world not only provides victims access to the services they need, but also helps identify trends within the illicit business of modern slavery.”
“The provision of a high quality Modern Slavery Helpline and Resource Centre is essential in order to allow those who are suffering to reach out and seek the help they need and deserve,” said the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner, Kevin Hyland. “The new helpline funded by Google will be developed in partnership between Polaris and Unseen, both of whom have extensive experience within the modern slavery arena. This is a significant and welcomed advancement in establishing an effective response to this horrendous crime. Polaris and Unseen are committed to working with statutory agencies, non government organisations and the public to ensure the United Kingdom has a high quality helpline that will enable victims to seek safety in confidence. In turn the information gathered by the helpline will assist to detect those who perpetrate these crimes and allow for prevention measures to be implemented. This kind of collaborative enterprise funded by the private sector is an example of how businesses can proactively support front line services in the fight against modern slavery.”