The Dark Figure
Press & Editorial Photography graduate Amy Romer has created a documentary feature called The Dark Figure, exploring the extent of modern slavery in the UK.
The project maps neighbourhoods affected by slavery in Britain, and also describes the specific crime that took place there. The title references the estimates made by the Scientific Advisor for the Home Office, Professor Bernard Silverman that there are 13,000 slaves in the UK today, referred to by the government as "the dark figure". Amy's project has its own website, social media pages and self-published newspaper.
On her inspirations, as well as the challenges she faced, Amy explained, "It began when a friend working for Devon and Cornwall Police told me that they were shifting their focus away from incident related street crime, and instead focusing on modern slavery. I asked her what modern slavery constituted, and as soon as it was explained to me I knew I wanted to work on it.
"I spent a lot of time contacting charities and asking if I could speak with a survivor of slavery, in the hope this would provide me with a visual story, but got absolutely nowhere. I had to start thinking creatively about the subject."
The project has recently been shortlisted for the Fotofilmic18 Traveling Exhibition Awards, as well as being published by the International Slavery Museum and in Pete Brook's renowned Prison Photography blog. It has also been used nationwide by the UK police force for training officers in how to spot slavery on the streets, and by the UK Anti-Slavery Commissioner in national research reports.
Amy reflected, "Falmouth is the reason that I've realised stories exist everywhere, right on your doorstep and often in the unlikeliest places. For my career in documentary storytelling, that lesson has to be one of the most important you'll ever learn."