Modern Slavery: It’s closer than you think Date published: 15th October 2015 2.55pm

It’s a common misconception that modern slavery doesn’t exist here in the UK. In actual fact slavery is closer than you think.

Sunday 18 October marks World Anti-Slavery Day. Cheshire Police and Police & Crime Commissioner John Dwyer are teaming up with partners across Cheshire to tackle the issue of modern slavery.

Chief Constable Simon Byrne said, “Slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain, this can include sexual and criminal exploitation, forced labour and domestic servitude. It’s abhorrent to think that this type of crime exists in today’s modern world.
“I want to encourage people to report incidents of modern slavery to the police calling. We’re here to support victims of crime and will work hard to bring offenders to justice. We need the help of our communities to help us tackle this under reported ‘hidden’ crime. Be vigilant of the signs. If you have any concerns contact the police.
Police & Crime Commissioner John Dwyer said, “It’s hard to believe that slavery still exists in the modern world, and it is happening under our very noses. It’s shocking to hear that the number of victims have been increasing nationally, year on year. It highlights continued work that needs to be done between the police, councils, NHS and Gang Masters Licensing Authority to tackle the issue.
“I’ve granted the Cheshire Anti-Slavery Network £20,000 to help them in the fight against modern slavery.”

Signs of modern slavery are often hidden, making it hard to recognise the victims amongst us. Here is a list of signs which will help you to spot victims of modern slavery:

  • 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 – Victim’s 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.
  • Restricted freedom of movement – 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.
  • Physical appearance – Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn.
Detective Superintendent Nigel Wenham from Cheshire Constabulary’s Public Protection Directorate said: “Slavery is happening in our communities across Cheshire, it is closer than you think and we all have an important role to play in being vigilant to the signs and taking positive action to protect victims and bring offenders to justice.”

You can report slavery by calling the police on 999 (for emergencies) or 101

More information on modern slavery is available on www.modernslavery.co.uk