Since Friday we’ve received three reports of suspected modern slavery in nail bars and a car wash in our force area that are being followed up.
It comes after we supported the charity Unseen’s ‘Let’s Nail It’ campaign to raise awareness of slavery in nail bars on Anti-Slavery Day (Wednesday, 18 October).
Pictures of officers wearing nail varnish were posted on social media channels linking to advice about modern slavery in nail salons, to help people spot the signs and know how to report it.
Our support for the campaign became the subject of widespread debate on social media and made front page of the Sun alongside stories in the Daily Mail, Bristol Post and on broadcast media.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Modern slavery is a crime that many find hard to believe still exists in this day and age, but sadly it does.
"What’s worse is 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.
"Through the painting of nails, the campaign raised awareness that slavery is occurring right now and in plain sight, as well as educating people how to spot the signs and how to report it. I hope we continue to see this positive impact.”
Deputy Chief Constable Sarah Crew said: “This campaign will have made a real difference to lives.
"Someone who was going to pay £5 for a car wash now won't.
"A victim who was feeling alone and helplessness will feel brave enough to seek help because they now know that they can, how and from whom - and that we will believe them.
"And a criminal gang will be deterred because they know that they are no longer in the shadows and their business model will be disrupted as a result.”
Justine Currell, Unseen’s Executive Director, said: “This is exactly the kind of response we want from the public – an understanding that people are being exploited in nail bars, and then to have the confidence to pick up the phone and speak to someone confidentially about it.”
The message of much of the public feedback on radio call-ins, via social media and on our website is how they had previously been unaware of modern slavery and now know much more:
‘This highlights something I was unaware of and something that others will now be aware of’ - resident in Bishopsworth
‘Painting your nails to draw attention to slavery is a BRILLIANT idea. All those people who say otherwise are seriously misguided. Well done and good luck’ - resident in Somerton
‘I read that you've had a lot of criticism for your painted nails to highlight slavery issues in places like nail bars. I don't live in your area but it's an issue where I live too and I just wanted to let you know that I support your idea. It worked, too - it's on the BBC website and people are talking about it! Well done’ - resident in Cardiff
We are 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.
Anyone can spot the signs of slavery and can report them to the Modern Slavery Helpline 24-hours a day on 08000 121 700. Read more about the signs of modern slavery here.
Posted on Thursday 26th October 2017