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Slavery has NO HOME HERE

As North Yorkshire Police’s No Home Here campaign moves into the final month of activity, the focus turns to modern slavery and human trafficking, with the aim to raise awareness of this hidden crime.

Modern slavery is an exploitative crime and is a growing issue which affects men, woman and children.

Victims are viewed as a commodity to be traded or exploited over and over again. This may be for use in criminal purposes, forced labour, domestic servitude or for sexual exploitation.

The National Crime Agency reported that in 2017, 5145 potential victims of modern slavery were identified, a 35% increase on the previous year*. However, due to the hidden and secretive nature of the crime, it’s thought that there may potentially be tens of thousands of victims in the UK.

Cases of modern slavery have been found all across the country, at car washes, construction sites, in agricultural industries and in food processing. Victims are payed little and forced to put up with poor living and working conditions.

Some are forced into sex work or into the production of cannabis, with their freedom of movement removed from them, as their passports and papers are taken away, effectively trapping them into the situation.

As part of the No Home Here campaign, police want to highlight the fact that this crime is happening here in North Yorkshire and appeal to members of the public that if they see something, to say something.

Speaking about campaign Detective Superintendent Allan Harder, North Yorkshire Police’s lead for Safeguarding said:

“Modern slavery is not confined to major cities. This issue affects all parts of the UK – it’s in our towns and cities and in our rural communities and we should not assume that North Yorkshire is not touched by this growing offence.

“We know from national figures modern slavery is on the increase, but the nature of the crime means that victims are hidden and controlled so it can be hard to spot or recognise, particularly for victims of sexual exploitation, force labour or domestic servitude.

“It may be as you legitimately go about your business, you come into contact with individuals who are being exploited. Those that work in the accommodation letting or hotel industry, or those that work in farming or rural industries may inadvertently come into contact with victims of modern slavery and we appeal to them to contact us if they see something suspicious.”

“If you have your suspicions aroused and think that modern slavery may be happening near you, contact North Yorkshire Police on 101 – if there is an immediate threat always call 999.

“You can also contact the Modern Slavery helpline on 08000121700 is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week**  or anonymously via Crimestoppers on 0800555111.

“The most important thing is to take action and tell someone and ensure that this demeaning, degrading and exploitative crime has no home here. ”

How to recognise the signs of modern slavery

Whilst slavery can be hard to identify, there are some indicative signs you can be aware of:

PHYSICAL APPEARANCE – Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn

ISOLATION – Victims may rarely be allowed to travel on their own, seem under the control, influence of others, rarely interact or appear unfamiliar with their neighbourhood or where they work

POOR LIVING CONDITIONS – Victims may be living in dirty, cramped or overcrowded accommodation, and/or living and working at the same address

FEW OR NO PERSONAL EFFECTS – Victims may have no identification documents, have few personal possessions and always wear the same clothes day in day out. What clothes they do wear may not be suitable for their work

– Victims have little opportunity to move freely and may have had their travel documents retained, e.g. passports

UNUSUAL TRAVEL TIMES – They may be dropped off/collected for work on a regular basis either very early or late at night

RELUCTANT TO SEEK HELP – Victims may avoid eye contact, appear frightened or hesitant to talk to strangers and fear law enforcers for many reasons, such as not knowing who to trust or where to get help, fear of deportation, fear of violence to them or their family.

If you see something, say something and together we can break the cycle of exploitation.