Posted: Sunday 30th July 2017
Unseen has been established to work towards a world without slavery. We do this in three main ways;
By supporting survivors and vulnerable people through specialist services to enable them to recover safely and develop resilient, independent lives.
By equipping stakeholders through the provision of training, advice and resources so they can better identify and support actual and potential victims of slavery.
By influencing society through systemic change and using our practical experience, research and survivor stories to inspire change in legislation, policy, and consumer choices.
In 2015 Unseen welcomed the opportunity to provide services for victims and potential victims of modern slavery and trafficking across the Avon and Somerset Police Force as part of the Police and Crime Commissioners funding services for vulnerable people.
Unseen have continued to secure funding from the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner (OPCC) in order to:
- Support police activity across the force area in the detection of criminal activity and support to potential victims.
- Provide training and information to organisations linked to the Lighthouse Project.
- Provide resettlement support to victims who had been given a positive conclusive grounds decision.
Modern Slavery is a crime. In its simplest form it is illicit trade in human beings for vast profits. It is happening across the Avon and Somerset force area in establishments selling sex, in car washes, nail bars, on farms, in factories – city, town or rural location people are being commodified, abused and exploited.
Over the last year we have supported some 50 survivors of slavery in the Avon and Somerset force area and provided over 870 hours of direct support to those recovery from horrendous human rights violations in our local community. This support has allowed survivors to settle into the community, understand their rights, gain access to the services they need and continue their journey of recovery towards independence.
Across the force area last year (including Local Authority partners) there were only 17 referrals into the National Referral Mechanism, we have to get better locally at identifying the indicators of slavery and offering victims the opportunity to leave their situation and access support.
The funding from the OPCC has also enabled us to work to support proactive police activity. Working with police, other law enforcement partners and partners from the Anti-Slavery partnership we have been able to attend 14 operational and welfare visits to locations potentially harbouring victims of trafficking.
The support we are able to offer officers by
- Providing advice and assistance to Police teams prior to operations;
- Attending operation and welfare visit briefings;
- Being part of multi-agency teams on days of action and visits;
- Speaking to potential victims about the NRM during operations and ensuring they understand their rights and entitlements;
- Assisting police to support a potential victim to leave situation of exploitation;
- Contribute to debrief and advise on follow up plans and actions.
Most of the operations last year occurred in the Bristol and Bath and North East Somerset area and focussed on male victims being forced into labour.
Unseen have had their funding renewed and are in a position to support officers plan, brief and visit potential locations of exploitation across the force area. We believe that this multi-agency and proactive approach allow us to better understand how slavery presents within our force area, will provide us with the information and intelligence needed to profile and understand the perpetrators of this crime, to recover victims, offer them appropriate support and to pursue prosecutions of those involved in this form of serious and organised criminality.
Find out more at:
If you want to record a concern or suspicion of slavery or need advice or information call the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700.