Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens is supporting a new campaign that aims to increase the amount of intelligence the police receive on modern day slavery.
The campaign, called #TellUsWhatYouSee, aims to educate the public on the signs and indicators of various forms of Modern Day Slavery, and how to report this information, in order to help us tackle this crime.
Police forces in the South West have seen a 5% increase in intelligence reporting between 2016 and 2017, receiving a total of 3272 pieces of intelligence. Forces anticipate this figure will rise next year, having already surpassed the 2017 figure with two months left till the end of the year.
While the increase is positive and in part down to increased media attention on modern slavery in nail bars and car washes, there are still many forms of lesser-known modern slavery going on, in neighbourhoods and local communities across our force area.
Labour exploitation, which is linked with industries such as car washes, nail bars and building sites, is the most common form of intelligence we’ve received information on, followed closely by sexual exploitation, which covers brothels and sex workers. Reports of criminal exploitation and domestic servitude are minimal and are lesser known to the public as modern slavery.
We know domestic servitude is happening across the UK but there is very little information on it due to how invisible this form of modern slavery can be. Only one force has received a report of domestic servitude out of the hundreds of reports we’ve received year on this form of modern slavery. We are keen to hear from anyone who suspects domestic servitude is happening. Some of the signs to look out for include an individual who is not only responsible for children24 hours a day, but also for the cleaning or day – to -day housework and is never allowed to leave home alone.
Avon & Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Modern Slavery is happening right now, and tackling it falls under the number one policing priority of protecting the most vulnerable from harm. “Modern Slavery often occurs in plain sight and in everyday situations, so I urge everyone to use their voice to speak up for those who can’t. Be vigilant, know how to spot the signs and, most importantly, report your suspicion if you believe someone’s at risk.”
Mark Edgington, force lead on modern day slavery for Avon and Somerset Constabulary, said: “In the past two years we’ve seen an increase in the reporting of illegal workers at car washes and nail bars. “However there are still many other forms of modern slavery where vulnerable people are being taken advantage of. We need the public to be our eyes, telling us what they’re seeing and sending that information in, either direct to police or through the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.”
There were 93 active on-going investigations linked to potential modern slavery within the South West force area as of 15 October and these investigations rely heavily on information received from the public, also known as intelligence. Put simply, intelligence is information, which can arrive in a number of ways to us and plays a crucial role in the disruption and prosecution of Modern Day Slavery. One piece of intelligence could be the missing piece an investigator needs to carry out a safeguarding visit or issue a warrant for an arrest. That’s why it’s vital that the public tells us what they see and report any activity they suspect could be linked to modern day slavery.
Since 2016 forces in the South West have made 541 referrals through the National Referral Mechanism, which is a framework for identifying victims of human trafficking or modern slavery and ensuring they receive the appropriate support.
The NRM is also the mechanism through which the Modern Slavery Human Trafficking Unit (MSHTU) collects data about victims. This information contributes to building a clearer picture about the scope of human trafficking and modern slavery in the UK.
Posted on Monday 22nd October 2018