Modern slavery and human trafficking is a growing issue affecting men, woman and children. Victims are viewed as a commodity and are exploited over and over again either sexually, criminally or for their labour. Modern slavery is a hidden crime but it’s happening all around us in our towns and cities and in our countryside too.
In 2013 1,746 cases were reported in the UK, a 47% increase on 2012 and these are the cases and victims we know about. The nature of the crime means that victims are hidden and controlled, so current estimates based on the limited data available suggest there are between 10-13,000 victims living in the UK today.
It’s believed that modern slavery and human trafficking is the fastest growing criminal industry in the world and is as lucrative as drugs smuggling and arms dealing. The reality is that it is happening around us, in our towns and cities here in North Yorkshire.
Would you recognise the signs ?
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APPEARANCE – Victims may show signs of physical or psychological abuse, look malnourished or unkempt, or appear withdrawn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
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.
What can you do ?
If you or another person is in immediate danger you should dial 999
If you are a victim of modern slavery, or suspect slavery is happening near you and there is no immediate threat to life you can :
- Call North Yorkshire Police on 101
- Report it by calling the Modern Slavery helpline on 0800 0121 700 which is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week
- Contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
For more information and for details of other agencies who can offer help and support go to https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/modern-slavery
North Yorkshire Police and regional partners both within the police and wider public sector and voluntary organisations continue to work to identify and support victims.