Public vigilance urged to help free modern slaves from ‘atrocious crime’
PUBLISHED: 08:15 17 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:57 20 May 2018
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Police are urging people to look for the signs of modern slavery after it was claimed that forced labour thrived in every town.
A report by the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority (GLAA) found that Britons were now the third most likely to be exploited – after Vietnamese and Albanians.
Highlighted in the report were concerns about ‘county lines’, and the related exploitation of adults and children by gang members to transport and supply drugs.
Forced labour accounted for 30% of exploitation last year – the majority of victims men from Bulgaria, Poland, Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania and Slovakia.
Suffolk police said it was crucial that victims speak out, but acknowledged they may be afraid to interact, and urged the public to open their eyes to the issue.
In the year to March 2017, police recorded 2,255 modern slavery offences in England and Wales.
The GLAA said intelligence suggested most took place in the agricultural sector, and that the British and Romanians were the most prevalent perpetrators.
Ian Waterfield, of the GLAA, which made 107 arrests since getting police-style powers last May, said: “Slavery and exploitation continues to thrive in every town and every city, and our dedicated workforce will continue to build on what we’ve achieved.”
Roger Bannister, interim chief executive, said: “The sad reality is that the criminality that drives exploitation and slavery is quite close to home in the towns, cities and countryside in which we live.”
In Suffolk, officers and PCSOs in the Suffolk Champions group have a special focus on modern slavery, visiting premises, sharing information with councils and schools, and working with the Just Enough and Unseen charities.
Stephen Tunks, Modern Day Slavery and Organised Crime Group coordinator, said: “Organised criminals prey on vulnerable people to make money, offering them false promises, a fresh start in a new city, town or country, a rosy picture of a better life, a good job, educational opportunity or marriage.”
“Very often, the victims live in fear and are too frightened or unwilling to come forward, but this has to stop.
“We need to open people’s eyes to the slavery all around them and encourage victims to speak out.
“They need to know that they have the support of the police and our partner agencies, and by working together, we can help free them of this atrocious crime.”
•Spot the signs of modern slavery:
Victims may look malnourished or unkempt, be withdrawn, anxious and unwilling to interact, be under the control and influence of others, live in cramped, dirty, overcrowded accommodation, have no access or control of their passport or identity documents, appear scared, avoid eye contact, and be untrusting, or show signs of abuse and have health issues.
Typical kinds of employment include factories and farm work, restaurants (in particular, fast food outlets), domestic service and hospitality, hand car washes and nail bars
They may also be forced into sexual exploitation, as well as into crime, such as pick-pocketing, begging, burglaries and the illegal drug industry.
If you do suspect someone is being exploited or has been trafficked, do not confront the people you believe are responsible or let the victim know of your suspicions, as you may risk putting them and yourself in danger.
Call 999 if there is immediate danger, contact the police on 101 for help and support, contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 012 1700, contact Salvation Army referral helpline 0300 303 8151, or contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111.