We’re helping to raise awareness about this often-hidden crime, as well as highlighting the support and care that is readily available to victims.
North Yorkshire and York are very safe places to live, work and visit, but our area is not immune to modern slavery and human trafficking.
It is closer than you think, in our communities, and we all have a part to play to root it out, bring offenders to justice and protect vulnerable victims.
Successful court cases involving modern slavery are rare, but that’s what North Yorkshire Police achieved back in February when Fabiani Alvez De Souza, aged 42, and Gareth Derby, aged 53, both of Town Street, Upwell, Norfolk, were both sentenced to five years’ imprisonment at Leeds Crown Court.
Guilty: Fabiani Alvez De Souza
Guilty: Gareth Derby
This followed a two-week trial when they were found guilty of a total of eight offences under the Modern Slavery Act 2015 for arranging or facilitating travel of another person with a view to exploitation.
They were also found guilty of nine offences to the Sexual Offences Act 2003 of controlling prostitution for gain to the sum of more than £40,000 during a six-month period.
The investigation was sparked by sex worker harm reduction visits in Harrogate in January 2017 under Operation Oasis.
An intensive four-year investigation run by North Yorkshire Police’s Organised Crime Unit secured justice against them for sexually exploiting seven vulnerable women, from Brazil, Portugal and Spain and aged between 26 and 60, in what amounted to modern day slavery.
As well as the custodial sentences, De Souza and Derby were also handed slavery and trafficking orders that will last for 10 years following their release from prison.
Detective Constable Leah Kitchen, of the Organised Crime Unit, was commended by The Recorder of Leeds, Judge Guy Kearl QC, who said: “The officer in the case had an encyclopaedic knowledge of the case, this was a difficult case to put together and she should be commended for her work to bring this case before the court.”
DC Kitchen said: “I’m very proud that North Yorkshire Police, with assistance from Norfolk Constabulary, have rooted out this activity and brought the offenders to justice.
“This is an important case as it is a victimless prosecution for a human trafficking and controlling prostitution investigation, which is unusual and more difficult to progress to court.
“It has also shown the importance of a safeguarding approach to policing, because if it wasn’t for the sex worker harm reduction visits carried out in Harrogate under Operation Oasis, this fledgling international sex trafficking business may have grown significantly without coming to the attention of the police.”
Our overriding message to residents and businesses is to #ReportModernSlavery to the Modern Slavery Helpline 08000 121 700 which is open 24 hours every day.
You can also #ReportModernSlavery via the North Yorkshire Police website or by calling us on 101.
Always call 999 if there is a crime in action or immediate threat to life.
If you have any information about the mistreatment of workers, labour providers operating without a licence or a business, you can contact Gangmasters & Labour Abuse Authority on 0800 432 0804 or go to www.gla.gov.uk
Victims can also seek help from Supporting Victims in North Yorkshire whether the incident has been reported to the police. You can visit the website www.supportingvictims.org or call 01609 643100.