An expert has given a talk on modern slavery and human trafficking to an audience of 60 people.

Robin Brierley, a consultant on the issues, says modern slavery exists everywhere and there is no reason to think that the Isle of Man is immune.

He was speaking at an event hosted by the One World Centre which representatives from the police, social services, immigration, education and members of the public attended.

Modern slavery can take many forms including forced labour, domestic servitude, sexual exploitation, forced marriage, being made to commit criminal offences, particularly around drugs or laundering the cash from drug sales – with young and vulnerable people particularly at risk of being targeted.

Often victims are ‘unseen’ by others and live in fear that prevents them from seeking help.

Mr Brierley has worked with the UK’s National Crime Squad, Anti-Corruption Command within the Metropolitan Police, and the Serious Organised Crime Agency where he was seconded to the United Kingdom Human Trafficking Centre.

Together with the Human Trafficking Foundation, he founded and co-chairs a national network for anti-slavery partnerships. 

He said that human trafficking is different to human smuggling – where people pay to be transported into a country illegally – and while many people think of human trafficking in terms of people arriving from overseas, the majority of trafficking cases take place within national borders.

‘What trafficking really means is girls groomed and forced into sexual exploitation; men tricked into accepting risky job offers and trapped in forced labour in building sites, farms or factories; and women recruited to work in private homes only to be trapped, exploited and abused behind closed doors with no way out,’ he said.

‘Transporting or moving the victim doesn’t define trafficking – it can take place within a single country, or even within a single community.’

Mr Brierley also discussed the UK’s Modern Slavery Act and the ways in which organisations in the UK have worked together to help free victims and prevent further exploitation.

There was a lot of interest from the audience in how cases could be effectively identified and dealt with on the Isle of Man.

Later Mr Brierley gave a presentation to members of Tynwald, hosted by Environment, Food and Agriculture Minister Clare Barber.

Mr Brierley discussed the merits of the UK Modern Slavery Act and also advocated for a victim-centred approach to enable government departments, NGOs and other organisations to develop a joint understanding of the nature and scale of such exploitation on the Isle of Man.

Speaking after the event, Wendy Shimmin, coordinator of the One World Centre, said that the various talks and meetings held with Mr Brierley had demonstrated that there was concern that vulnerable people could be at risk.

‘The people who came to the public talk were very engaged and wanted to understand more about how we can all help to spot the signs of modern slavery and develop a pathway to freedom for victims,’ she said.

‘This is a subject that we have often talked about at a global level but it is clear that it is also something for us take positive action on at a local level as well.

‘We hope Robin’s visit has inspired more people to consider how we can best identify, address and prevent exploitative and coercive behaviour taking place here on our island.’