This week’s Sixth Form lecture was delivered by ethical auditor Christopher Riley, who also chairs social enterprise company Verisio.

Christopher provided a thought-provoking talk on Modern Slavery: What is Happening and How to Fix it. He presented the hard facts about, getting pupils to think about the extent of this real and horrific issue, and what we can to do improve it. At Downside, our Sixth Form Lecture Series covers a wide variety of topics from politics to self-image, slavery to medical ethics – all vital topics to explore, question and concern ourselves with.

Christopher highlighted that there are an approximate 30-40 million people in slavery across the globe, earning traffickers earn $150 billion each year. Of these 30-40 million, 26% are children under the age of 18, and that, far from being something happening halfway across the world, this problem is right here on our doorsteps: the UK is believed to have 30,000 slaves, probably more.

Modern slavery in the UK is ‘far more prevalent than previously thought,’ according to the National Crime Agency. ‘The more we look, the more we find.’

Chris went on to expand on the types of slavery that he and his team regularly encounter around the UK and Europe. These vary from the non-payment of National Minimum Wage to the holding of identity documents or debit cards; the restriction of freedom of movement to bullying by labour providers or equivalent. He also then turned to how to recognise the signs of modern slavery and how to map a supply chain using slavery in an attempt to eradicate it.

The image shows the Verisio team, with Christopher Riley fourth from the left.