Authorities team up to tackle growing menace of modern day slavery
PUBLISHED: 11:30 09 April 2019
As part of our series on multiculturual Ipswich, we take a look at modern slavery, which affects some migrants in Suffolk.
Criminal gangs are trafficking growing numbers of people into Ipswich for modern slavery.
Although most newcomers follow legal routes to live and work in the town, some have been taken against their will to work in factories, farms or as sex workers.
National Crime Agency (NCA) figures show modern slavery victims identified by Suffolk Constabulary almost doubled from 13 in 2017 to 24 in 2018.
The Anti-Slavery charity said most victims were trafficked into the UK from overseas. Often the criminals behind these operations are foreign nationals from the same countries as their victims.
Recent operations involving Suffolk Constabulary, the Gangmasters and Labour Abuse Authority, NCA and other organisations, saw seven people arrested on modern slavery charges in Ipswich in February. A further operation last August, saw a 42-year-old Romanian man arrested in the town.
Suffolk authorities teamed up recently to launch a campaign alerting people to the signs of slavery. The message: “The signs aren’t always clear – Is modern slavery happening on your street?” was been put on an Ipswich bin lorry for six weeks.
Det Supt David Giles said modern slavery was often hidden and so the public had a vital role to play in identifying its victims.
“Very often the victims live in fear and are too frightened or unwilling to come forward but this has to stop,” he added. “We need to open people’s eyes to the slavery all around them, and encourage victims to speak out.
He said that although the problem was “relatively rare” it could affected all ages, gender and nationalities. NCA figures showed the number of children being used as slaves more than doubled in the past year, nationally, fuelled by the county lines drug gangs.
Det Supt Giles said: “The 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. It takes many forms but the most common include criminal exploitation, sexual exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude with limited access to support, finance, medical provision and proper nutrition.”
Authorities share intelligence on modern slavery. Suffolk County Council said it is one of ten crimes in its Violence Against Women and Girls Strategy.
Last week, the BBC reported users of a new app had made almost 1,000 reports of potential human trafficking at hand car washes during its first five months of use.
The Church of England’s anti-slavery division, the Clewer Initiative, and the Catholic Church launched The Safe Car Wash app last year.
Users raised concerns about fearful workers, lack of protective clothing and workers living on site.