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MODERN slavery referrals have soared by almost a third in Wales in the last year, official statistics show today.
The 251 reported cases of modern slavery in the country in 2018 include 125 children, the National Crime Agency figures show.
The overall figure represents a 30 per cent increase from 2017 when there were 193 referrals.
Most of the referrals, 60 per cent, involved labour exploitation — representing 151 of the referrals including 74 children and 77 adults.
Of the 251 referrals, 94 were women and 157 were men. The most common countries of origin were Britain, 103, Vietnam, 21, Sudan, 16, Albania, 16, Romania, 13, China, 11, and Eritrea, 10.
Welsh First Minister Mark Drakeford will address a gathering of Unison Cymru Wales public service workers today in Butetown Community Centre, Cardiff, about the findings.
The meeting was organised by the trade union’s black members to mark International Day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.
Mr Drakeford said: “Slavery is a crime against humanity and we will use all the tools we have at our disposal to fight it.
“Wales took a lead in the UK, creating the role of an anti-slavery co-ordinator, and Wales introduced the code of practice on ethical employment in supply chains."
He insisted that more must be done to combat modern slavery and intends to strengthen legal protections in the Welsh government’s forthcoming Social Partnership Act.
Unison black members group chairman Kebba Manneh said: “There are more people in slavery today across the world than in the entire 350-year history of the transatlantic slave trade and slavery in Wales is on the rise.
“We have been lobbying employers to sign up to the Welsh government’s code of practice for ethical employment in supply chains which should ensure workers are treated fairly and no-one is exploited.”
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