We’ve welcomed a National Crime Agency report that highlights the fight against modern slavery and the efforts taken to identify and protect potential victims.
The report, released today, confirmed 27 individuals who were potentially victims of human trafficking or slavery were identified in our area in 2017.
It follows on from the work done locally by ourselves as a key member of the regional anti-slavery partnership.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Tackling modern slavery and human trafficking is part of my priority of protecting the most vulnerable from harm, in my Police and Crime Plan. I am therefore encouraged by the National Crime Agency’s report, as it shows we are moving in the right direction.
“One victim of modern slavery is too many. In identifying 27 individuals at risk of becoming victims of modern slavery, this shows our collective commitment to supporting vulnerable victims of this terrible crime. Modern slavery 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 have been supporting this work both via a small grant to Unseen UK and through my membership of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, Chaired by Mark Burns-Williamson, the PCC for West Yorkshire. Working together we can continue to raise awareness of modern slavery, support victims and bring offenders to justice.”
Officers and staff receive regular training on modern slavery offences and what to do if they suspect someone is a victim.
We work closely with local charity Unseen, who have held training session for us, to continue to raise awareness of the issues.
And alongside partner agencies we undertake regular welfare visits to businesses where modern slavery could be happening, such as nail bars and car washes.
These operations have led to positive results including three people being jailed for modern slavery offences linked to nail bars including one in Bath earlier this year.
Ch Insp Mark Edgington, our Force lead for modern slavery and human trafficking and chairman of the regional anti-slavery partnership, said: “I welcome this report which shows the significant progress being made both locally and nationally in the fight against modern slavery.
“We are continuing to improve recognising the signs of this incredibly complex crime and taking action.
“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.
Posted on Monday 26th March 2018