Sussex Police are reminding communities that modern slavery is a problem often hidden in plain sight.
On Thursday (18 October) national Anti-slavery Day focuses on the need to raise awareness of all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.
The signs can be hard to spot but the effects can be very real, with vulnerable people forced to work in harrowing conditions, at risk of violence and sexual exploitation. Victims of all ages, nationalities and backgrounds may work in car washes, nail bars, farms or as domestics in homes, or elsewhere.
Detective Superintendent Jeff Riley who leads Sussex Police’s fight against modern slavery said: “Modern Slavery is a crime hidden in plain sight, which exploits the most vulnerable people in society – controlled by organised criminals who trade on human misery for financial gain.
“We may all have become accustomed to hand car wash services, nail bars and sub-contracted work forces, but perhaps we have inadvertently become de-sensitised to risk.
“While services may be in plain sight, less obvious but not invisible is the degree of threat, intimidation and control calculated to ensure victims implicitly follow instructions and do not disclose their plight to anyone enquiring.”
Richard Lancashire is the force’s Modern Slavery Manager, who is funded by the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, Katy Bourne. His expertise supports and trains officers in safeguarding victims and helping target the right offenders.
During the week leading up to the day Richard is also working with local authorities across Sussex to train selected staff to recognise modern slavery and spread knowledge amongst their colleagues.
This year, Sussex Police has already undertaken 11 operations and there are currently 63 ongoing investigations with suspects or crime groups involved in Modern Slavery, with potential victims originating from both the UK and overseas. 41 people have so far been arrested.
If you think you have information that might identify or locate a potential victim or suspect for modern slavery, or someone you know is a victim of modern slavery, or even a location where you think exploitation might be happening, please report it online or call us on 101 (always call 999 in an emergency).
You can also contact the national Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700 or the Salvation Army Modern Slavery helpline on 0300 303 8151, or the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
The Sussex Police website also provides more help and guidance.
The Modern Slavery Act 2010 is an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom. It introduces a national day to raise awareness of the need to eradicate all forms of slavery, human trafficking and exploitation.
The national day is co-ordinated by the charity Human Trafficking Foundation (HTF) who have trustees including the founder, Anthony Steen CBE, the Rt Hon Baroness Butler–Sloss, the Rt Hon Sir John Randall, the Rt Hon David Heathcoat-Amory and Vernon Coaker MP. The HTF was created following the all-party parliamentary group report on on Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking.
Modern Slavery is the term used in the UK and defined in the Act.
The Act categorises offences of Slavery, Servitude and Forced or Compulsory Labour and Human Trafficking . These crimes can include holding a person in a position of slavery , servitude forced or compulsory labour, or facilitating their travel with the intention of exploiting them soon afterwards. Although human trafficking often involves an international cross-border element, it is also possible to be a victim of modern slavery within your own country.