Help to stamp out modern slavery

The Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority is appealing for help from Cumbrian businesses to stamp out modern slavery.

It wants firms to report any instances of suspected exploitation by calling 0800 432 0804 (or 0115 959 7032 outside office hours) or emailing

The authority has produced a short guide, Labour Exploitation: Spot the Signs and a poster to download with contact details in 12 languages that victims of human trafficking can use to get help.

The authority was set up in 2006 after 23 Chinese cockle pickers lost their lives in Morecambe Bay. It regulates and licenses employment agencies and businesses (gangmasters) that supply labour to the UK predominantly in the shellfish gathering, agriculture and food processing/packaging industries.

Its role was widened in 2016 to include the detection and investigation of modern slavery and human trafficking offences across the labour market.

The authority says that businesses using agency workers need to be particularly vigilant that staff supplied to them are not being exploited.

As a start, they can check the agency’s public register to ensure that the agencies they deal with have been licensed. Those who supply labour to the regulated sector without a licence are committing a criminal offence. Likewise it is a criminal offence to engage the services of an unlicensed gangmaster.

Businesses can also download workers’ rights leaflets in various language formats and other resources including leaflets, posters and videos.

Over the coming weeks, the agency plans to visit labour providers and labour users to establish how the market is adapting to the Covid-19 crisis.

The visits are intended to educate, inform and tackle the issue of labour exploitation and to safeguard any potential victims.

It is happy to visit Cumbrian businesses to talk about exploitation and how to spot it. To request a visit, email

It says that all visits will be conducted in accordance with social distancing measures and carried out wearing PPE and in open areas where possible.

© Cumbria Chamber of Commerce