There’s a common misconception that modern slavery doesn’t affect us, or that it’s happening in non-developed parts of the world. But sadly it’s happening all around us. Since July 2015, 53 incidents have been investigated across the force area.
Everyday places we visit could be harbouring a victim of human trafficking. Unauthorised car washes, nail bars, brothels, takeaways and restaurants are just some of the places in which we are finding victims.
To mark World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, anti-slavery charity Unseen has produced a new short film which shows some of the ways people are trafficked in the UK. This impactful film from shows how modern slavery is happening all around us and often we are unaware of it. If you have a spare five minutes, it’s worth a watch.
We work with Unseen and other partners to identify these criminals and build the trust of victims who are often vulnerable and lacking confidence.
Some recent case studies of human trafficking in our force area include:
Human trafficking at a car wash
The National Crime Agency has led an investigation at a car wash in Bristol, supported by other partners including Avon and Somerset Police. It is believed that the car wash owner and his partner are recruiting workers from Slovakia and exploiting them with long hours, low pay. Jo is one of them and this is an account from an officer:
“Jo has never received any payment for any of the work he has done over the last 18 months. He feels ashamed that he has not been able to support his family as was the intention of him coming to the UK. He feels trapped in the situation he finds himself as every time he has challenged Bobby and asked for money he has been told that he needs to wait as Bobby has no money to pay him and he will get it when he returns home.
Jo states that there are five more people in the same situation.”
Five victims have now been safeguarded and the investigation continues into the car wash owner and its operation.
Human trafficking at a nail salon
A welfare visit to a nail bar in Bath uncovered a national human trafficking case, resulting in four people going to trial this autumn, including a 48-year old woman from Bath.
The charges include:
*conspiring with persons unknown to control other persons for the purposes of labour exploitation.
*Jointly with others conspiring intentionally to arrange or facilitate the movement in the UK of females to control them in labour exploitation.
Four females have been safeguarded and are involved in a national process specifically for victims and suspected victims of modern slavery crimes
If you are a victim of modern slavery, or are worried about someone, please call Unseen's Modern Slavery Helpline, which serves as a safe, 24-hour contact point, on 08000 121 700.