Spot the signs – Modern Slavery is on your doorstep
As Christmas approaches we often think about those people who are less fortunate than ourselves. Although it may be unseen, modern slavery is happening in Gloucestershire. Public sector organisations in the county are calling on residents to keep an eye out for any unusual activity in their communities.
People can be exploited in many ways. This can relate to a range of different work areas including car washes, nail bars, restaurants, hospitality, construction and agriculture. However, it can also relate to individuals being exploited by criminals who will focus on their vulnerability by forcing them to beg and by taking their benefits.
Whilst most businesses operate legitimately, many examples have been identified where unscrupulous employers exploit vulnerable people. Sometimes this might relate to foreign nationals, who have entered the UK illegally, but UK Nationals have also been found to be victims of exploitation.
So when you’re out over Christmas, whether it’s picking up a takeaway, having your nails done or getting your car washed, be mindful of the signs which may suggest that someone is being exploited. Here are a few to look out for:
Someone who is under the control and influence of others and appears to be frightened and not allowed to speak for themselves.
- They appear to be tired and malnourished from working excessively long hours.
- They are living in poor conditions at multi-occupancy accommodation.
- They are not appropriately dressed for their work and their clothes are dirty.
- They have an illness or injury that appears untreated.
- They are not allowed to leave their work location unaccompanied.
Pete Bungard, Chief Executive at the County Council and Chair of the Gloucestershire Anti-Slavery Partnership, said “Modern slavery often goes unseen and public sector and community organisations across Gloucestershire are working together to make sure we recognise it and take action. If you see anything usual that might indicate that someone is being exploited please report it to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or online at www.crimestoppers-uk.org”
Detective Chief Inspector Gavin Webb, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking lead at Gloucestershire Constabulary, is pleased at the commitment from organisations across the public sector in Gloucestershire to raise awareness of the problem. He said “We have discovered a number of instances where vulnerable people have been exploited but we still do not fully appreciate the nature and extent of the problem in the county. If you see something that raises your suspicions then please report it, however insignificant you think it may be. We need the public to help us to stop this horrible crime.”
For more information on the Gloucestershire Anti-Slavery Partnership, visit http://www.aspartnership.org.uk/gloucestershire
Further information around the indicators of Modern Slavery and how to provide information can be found at www.gloucestershire.police.uk/modernslavery
The Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 provides help and advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.