Partnership effort to root out modern slavery in York
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A multi-agency operation was held in York last week as part of the ongoing effort to target modern slavery and safeguard victims.
It was run in the Clifton Moor area between 8.30am and 12.30pm on Wednesday (18 October 2023) and resulted in 24 vehicles being stopped with assistance from the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA).
These included two businesses regarding their waste disposal arrangements. Advice was given to ensure they are operating lawfully, but there was no cause to serve enforcement notices at this time.
Reassuringly, no issues were identified with the licensed private hire and hackney carriage taxis that were stopped.
City of York Council’s trading standards, taxi licensing and public protection officers all played a key part.
While there were no obvious signs of modern slavery detected on this occasion, representatives from the ‘Hope for Justice’ anti-slavery charity had some positive interactions with one potential follow-up.
Meanwhile, the DVSA’s results from the operation included five immediate prohibitions of unroadworthy vehicles including defective tyres, brakes and lights.
North Yorkshire Police reported two drivers for having untaxed vehicles, an uninsured vehicle, a driver without a licence and two vehicles that were overweight.
They also detained the driver of a pick-up truck, a 38-year-old man from Blyth, Northumberland, who subject to an arrest warrant for failing to appear at Newcastle Magistrates’ Court on 24 July 2023 in relation to driving and offensive weapon charges.
Traffic Constable Alison Hoyle, from the Road Safety Team, said:
“We all have a part to play in uncovering modern slavery and this multi-agency operation is just one in a series of proactive measures we are taking to target perpetrators and safeguard victims when they have been identified.
“We had a very productive morning and all the partners involved are confident we are making positive strides in bringing modern slavery out of the shadows.”
What is modern slavery?
Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain.
It covers a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.
Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. They are tricked or threatened into work and may feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not recognise themselves as a victim.
Anti-Slavery International estimate that 40 million children and adults are trapped in slavery in every country in the world, including in the UK and in our area too.
Signs to watch out for
Modern slavery could be happening in your community so it’s important you know the signs that could indicate someone is a victim of this crime.
The signs aren’t always obvious but there are some that you may notice:
do they look scruffy, malnourished or injured?
are they acting anxious, afraid or unable to make eye contact?
are they doing long hours, wearing unsuitable clothing or have the wrong equipment for the job?
is where they are living overcrowded, poorly maintained or are the curtains always closed?
do they behave like they’re being instructed by someone else, picked up/dropped off at the same time and place every day or don’t have access to money or identification?
Types of slavery
Types of modern slavery include:
Human trafficking – adults and children are traded so they can be exploited by others for commercial gain
Forced labour – victims are forced to work against their will, often working very long hours for little or no pay in dire conditions under verbal or physical threats of violence to them or their families. It can happen in many sectors of the economy.
Sexual exploitation – victims are pressurised to perform non-consensual or abusive sexual acts, such as prostitution, escort work and pornography. Women and children make up most victims, but men can also be affected.
Criminal exploitation – often controlled and maltreated, victims are forced into crimes such as cannabis cultivation or pickpocketing against their will. They might also have their benefits taken over by their exploiter.
Organ harvesting – the illegal removal of a person's internal organs which can then be sold.
Communities have an important role to play in recognising abuse. If you recognise any of the above signs and suspect someone may be a victim of modern slavery, please tell someone and #ReportModernSlavery. You will always be taken seriously, and protection and support are readily available.
To report a suspicion or seek advice you can contact the Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 08000 121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
Should you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or make an online report at www.crimestoppers-uk.org
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 towww.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.
Hope for Justice is fighting human trafficking and helping victims and survivors all around the world. This work is only possible because of a growing global movement of ordinary people who support this life-changing work in many different ways. Be part of it.