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MP in plea over modern slavery.

Byline: GARY MARKS

A MIDLAND MP has called on every adult in her constituency to be on the alert for modern day slavery.

Meriden Tory MP Caroline Spelman issued the plea after attending a distressing exhibition in the House of Commons. Built by students from the Central St Martin's College of Art, it highlighted different kinds of slavery hidden away in our society.

Survivors who shared their stories with the Human Traf-ficking Foundation to create the exhibition attended.

Among them was Cristina, a Romanian girl sold by her mother into prostitution in Birmingham when she was 16 and who narrowly escaped being snatched from her local authority care home by her traffickers.

There was also a man, duped by a job advertised in Hungary, and on arrival here forced to work without pay, compelled to open a credit card account operated by his slave master, and forced to claim benefits for non-existent children.

No one knows the real numbers involved. Yet, the Serious Organised Crime Agency knows that at least 2,000 victims are found each year, ten per cent of whom are from the West Midlands. However, they believe that is the tip of the iceberg and that, for every victim found, another ten remain hidden.

The Human Trafficking Foundation concludes there must be up to 20,000 slaves in the cities, towns and villages of the UK.

Ms Spelman said: "I was appalled to learn that even my constituency is affected by modern-day slavery and that there will undoubtedly be deeply traumatised people who have been trafficked to the UK and abused living in my area.

"Last time a survey of traf-ficked prostitutes was undertaken in the West Midlands and 1,400 were found.

"As a result of what I've seen today, I want to ensure that everyone in my constituency is more alert to the signs of modern-day slavery. I hope students in schools, public service workers and the police, as well as those in private business, will join me in this task.

"In parliament, I want to see the government put modern day slavery at the top of the political agenda."

Anthony Steen, chairman of the Human Trafficking Foundation, said: "What is amazing is that trafficked children, unlike adults, are offered no special area, in spite of what they have been through. They have no safe haven since, in local authority care, hundreds of trafficked children go missing each year."

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Tory MP Caroline Spellman.
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 2, 2013
Words:410
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