London — People who look unkempt, scared or work without proper clothing might be the victim of slavery, Britain’s antislavery body says, urging the public to report any suspicions.

Slavery predominantly affects immigrants and vulnerable people, often working at car washes, nail bars and farms, said the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) on Wednesday, as it launched a campaign to help the public identify trafficking.

"The public needs to understand and be aware that modern slavery is happening right now, in and around the communities they live," said GLAA’s chief Paul Broadbent in a statement.

At least 13,000 people are estimated to be victims of slavery in Britain, but police say that figure is the tip of an iceberg.

Signs of potential slavery include poor hygiene, injury and malnourishment, living in cramped or dirty accommodation, a suspicious manner and seeming to be under the control of others, said the GLAA.

The campaign is part of wider efforts to bring a largely hidden crime into the open

The awareness campaign, run in partnership with the Crimestoppers charity, will spread messages on social media, display posters and distribute leaflets across Britain.

"We want to reassure victims that [slavery] is an issue that is taken extremely seriously, and make it clear to perpetrators that they will be found and prose-cuted," said Emily Van der Lely, head of Crimestoppers’ slavery department.

The campaign is part of wider efforts to bring a largely hidden crime into the open.

Crimestoppers said it had received more than 350 tip-offs in the past six months, up 126% on the previous six months. Slavery is estimated to generate global annual profit of $150bn.

Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May pledged to double Britain’s aid on global projects tackling slavery and human trafficking to £150m and to boost training for police.

Thomson Reuters Foundation

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