Today is Anti-Slavery Day and Avon and Somerset is joining with its partners in the Anti-Slavery Partnership (ASP) to raise awareness of modern slavery and the part everyone can play in tackling this issue.
Over the past 12 months Avon and Somerset Police has dealt with 60 investigations of modern slavery and has seen a significant increase in modern slavery related intelligence which has resulted in visits to premises suspected of modern slavery.
As part of the week Avon and Somerset Police, Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens and the partnership want to encourage more people to be aware of the signs of modern slavery, and if they suspect something isn’t right – to report it.
Sue Mountstevens said: “I find it hard to imagine that in this day and age slavery still exists, however the sad truth is that it does. Sadly, modern slavery often occurs in everyday situations and that’s why we all have a role to play in being a louder voice for those who are trafficked and exploited.
“Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is part of my priority of protecting the most vulnerable from harm, in my Police and Crime Plan. Working closely with the Anti-Slavery Partnership, Unseen and other partners, I want the Police to continue focusing on this terrible crime, supporting victims and bringing offenders to justice.”
Sarah Crew, Deputy Chief Constable, Avon and Somerset Police said: “Trafficking and modern slavery offences can be difficult to identify and even more difficult to prove but we’re committed to ensuring we achieve successful prosecutions whenever possible. We work closely with our partners in the ASP to identify instances of human trafficking and modern slavery and to provide support to victims.”
“We all have a part to play in spotting it, and reporting it. Are you suspicious about any activities in your street, do you believe that someone is being exploited? If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.”
During the day, PCC Sue Mountstevens will be attending a National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network meeting to discuss how PCCs can work together to collectively tackle the crimes across the country. In the evening, the Office of the PCC will also be represented at a meeting being organised by local leaders at Wells Cathedral, Somerset on combatting modern slavery.
Kate Garbers, Managing Director Unseen, Co-Chair of the South West Regional Anti-Slavery Partnership said: "Modern slavery is an illicit trade in which human beings are turned into commodities to be bought, sold and exploited for vast profits.
No one agency can tackle this crime in isolation and the ASP provides a way for organisations and agencies to work together to identify victims and prosecute perpetrators.”
Modern slavery is an unseen crime, happening in everyday places like nail bars, car washes, brothels, restaurants and farms in communities across the region. Some victims of modern slavery are lured to the UK with promises of a better life, only to find themselves so heavily indebted to those who transport them that they have to work for their traffickers for nothing. Vulnerable people, particularly the homeless and young people in care, can also find themselves being trafficked within Britain, either for forced labour, or, in so-called “grooming” cases, for sexual abuse.
Anyone can spot the signs of slavery and can report them to the Modern Slavery Helpline 24-hours a day on 08000 121 700. You can read more about the signs of modern slavery here: https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/newsroom/features/slavery-is-closer-than-you-think/
Avon and Somerset Police is one of the founding members of the Anti-Slavery Partnership which has been working in the South West for eight years to raise awareness of this crime and promote collaborative working.
We will also be supporting Unseen’s Let’s Nail It campaign on Wednesday, encouraging colleagues to paint their nails to raise awareness of slavery in nail bars and sharing images on Facebook and Twitter.
Posted on Wednesday 18th October 2017