Would you recognise the signs of slavery and exploitation if you saw them?
A touring photographic exhibition which aims to help you do just that comes to Bristol Harbourside this weekend.
The “Invisible People” exhibition is part of the National Crime Agency’s campaign to raise awareness of modern slavery and human trafficking.
Slavery was abolished in the UK in 1807 yet more than 200 years on it still exists. Modern slavery is a crime which seeks out the most vulnerable men, women and children and abuses them for criminal profit.
Exploitation happens in our communities, sometimes right before our eyes in plain sight, and yet we don’t really see it.
The NCA has teamed up with photographers including multiple award winner Rory Carnegie and human rights charity the Helen Bamber Foundation to recreate the lives of Invisible People and expose the reality of modern slavery.
The exhibition comprises a series of large, freestanding cubes displaying images capturing snapshots of life in modern slavery - in agriculture, construction, maritime, cannabis farming and food processing, child trafficking for sexual exploitation and forced prostitution.
Each image comes with written commentary describing what the viewer is seeing, and information about signs which may indicate someone is a victim.
The free exhibition is visiting public spaces in towns and cities around the UK, and can be viewed on Centre Promenade, off Broad Quay, Bristol, on 13 and 14 January.
Photographer Rory Carnegie said: “What I found initially so complicated was how to visually define and illustrate certain aspects of Modern Slavery. For example, when one sees a picture of a young man or woman picking fruit or working in the fields, they will appear to the viewer exactly that, and not necessarily a victim of modern slavery.
“That image in itself does not explain the disgusting living conditions, the absence of pay and the other iniquitous and evil aspects of modern slavery. These victims might not living in chains, but they are living amongst us.”
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Sadly modern slavery is very much alive today, occurring in plain sight and in everyday situations. Modern slavery is a crime that cannot be tackled in isolation, which is why we all have a role to play in being a louder voice for those who are trafficked and exploited.
“I welcome the exhibition to the city, to raise awareness of this important issue and I’m planning on visiting the display over the weekend to see it for myself. If you are in or visiting the area I hope you can take the time to see the photographs and find out more about the signs which may suggest someone is a victim of modern slavery.”
Ch Insp Mark Edgington, our Force lead for modern slavery and human trafficking, said: “I hope people take the time to visit this powerful photo exhibition in Bristol this weekend which aims to show that while some victims of this archaic crime are hidden away, many are working in plain sight.
“The joint police investigation resulting in the recent conviction of three people for modern slavery offences linked to nail bars – including one in a busy Bath city centre street – is a prime example of this.
“We need the community to help us in the fight to end modern slavery once and for all. Look out for people who are often withdrawn, scared or unwilling to interact. They may be showing signs of mistreatment and ill health or living in over-crowded, cramped and dirty accommodation.
“Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t look or feel right, it probably isn’t.”
Anyone with suspicions can call their local police force on 101 or the national Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.
Chief Constable Shaun Sawyer, national policing lead for modern slavery, said:
“The inhumanity demonstrated by offenders of this crime is far greater than I have seen in my entire career tackling organised crime and terrorism. The human cost in stolen lives and stolen futures is high.”
Posted on Friday 12th January 2018