The advertising and social media campaign, focused on three areas of England, is aimed at professionals in healthcare, employment offices and financial services who are most likely to come into contact with victims.
“Modern slavery hides in plain sight and this campaign is vitally important”
It is designed to raise awareness of common signs of human trafficking and ensure staff report any concerns to the Modern Slavery Helpline.
Warning signs nurses and other healthcare staff can look out for include multiple prescriptions for the same address and people being accompanied to a health appointment with someone who is clearly not a relative.
The campaign, which is launching in West Yorkshire, the West Midlands and Cambridgeshire, comes amid year on year increases in the number of potential victims of modern slavery with nearly 7,000 cases reported via the National Referral Mechanism in 2018 – a 36% increase on the year before.
The government said it had used intelligence from the police and Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority to run the campaign in regions where it was most likely to have an impact.
Officials said they were keen to build on positive work already under way in these three areas, which has included providing training to staff working in bank branches.
Minister for crime, safeguarding and vulnerability Victoria Atkins said tackling modern slavery was a key priority for the government, which has set up a taskforce to help achieve the United Nations goal of eradicating the problem by 2030.
“It is vitally important to give frontline workers, who come into contact with potential victims of trafficking and modern slavery, the tools they need to spot the signs of abuse and the confidence to report any exploitation they see,” she said.
“They are our eyes and ears and the information they provide could be crucial2
Michael Rich, chief executive of the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, said frontline workers in health, employment and financial services were “in a perfect position” to identify patients and service users who may be being exploited.
“Modern slavery hides in plain sight and this campaign is vitally important in educating those workers about what signs to be alert to, what they can do to help, and who to contact if they have concerns,” he said.
“They are our eyes and ears and the information they provide could be crucial – it could end suffering and even save lives,” he added.