Suffolk Constabulary are supporting Anti-Slavery Day which takes place today and which seeks to raise awareness and encourage reporting of human trafficking and exploitation taking place in the county.
Modern slavery is a reality and it happens everywhere, including rural areas. It’s an abuse of human rights and affects society’s most vulnerable men, women and children.
Safer Neighbourhood Teams and specialist officers work with partner agencies who may to come into contact with people who are vulnerable to exploitation. These can include victims that have been brought from overseas, as well as UK nationals in Suffolk, being forced to work illegally against their will. Many different sectors are targeted, including the sex trade, cannabis farms, nail bars, car washes, agriculture and the construction industry.
Temporary Superintendent Barry Byford said: “The perpetrators of human trafficking are organised criminals who make
money by preying on vulnerable people and we would urge the public to be vigilant to try to help us free these modern day slaves. Organised criminals target the vulnerable, often with false promises of a fresh start in a new city, town or country, a rosy picture of a better life, a good job, educational opportunity or marriage.
“In the county we have our Suffolk Champions group who are police officers and PCSOs who all have a special focus on modern slavery and want to do something proactively about the problem. We ask them to visit premises and be our eyes and ears on the ground.
“We also liaise closely with local authority housing and welfare
partners and schools to share information and intelligence on modern slavery and work with the Just Enough and Unseen charities who visit junior and senior schools in Ipswich.
“Very often the victims live in fear and are too frightened or
unwilling to come forward but this has to stop. We need to open people’s eyes to the slavery all around them and encourage victims to speak out. They need to know that they have the support of the police and our partner agencies and by working together we can help free them of this atrocious crime.”
Suffolk Police and Crime Commissioner Tim Passmore added: “If I was not Suffolk’s PCC, I’m not sure I would be aware of the consequences of this horrendous issue; it is another example of a hidden crime and something that many of us are completely unaware of. But modern slavery is something we all need to be aware of because it is happening in Suffolk and the impact of this evil crime on victims is totally devastating.
“Fortunately there have been successful prosecutions and I congratulate our dedicated police officers who are rooting out this barbaric behaviour. The Constabulary plays an important part in combating this but policing cannot be the only solution. Robust enforcement is vital, however an effective response needs partnership working; we all have a moral obligation to be aware of, and help eradicate modern slavery.
“That’s why I have recently allocated over £30,000 from my PCC fund to Just Enough and Unseen to help raise awareness of this terrible crime and hopefully eliminate it.”
If you need help or think someone you know is at risk:
· call 999 if there is immediate danger
· contact the Police on 101 for help and support
· contact the Modern Slavery Helpline on 0800 012 1700
· contact Salvation Army referral helpline 0300 303 8151
· contact the Crimestoppers charity anonymously on 0800 555 111