Police and the PCC back World Human Trafficking Day
30 Jul 2018 13:50 PM[View Full Size]
Everyone has a part to play to help stop human trafficking and modern day slavery – and need to be aware it is happening in our region.
That’s the message from senior figures in the police as organisations around the globe today (Monday, July 30) raise awareness of the offences as part of World Human Trafficking Day.
The aim of the awareness day is to educate the public about how vulnerable people are trafficked into the country and exploited.
Often victims have their travel documents seized, they are housed in cramped shared rooms and are put to work in factories or at car washes for a tiny wage.
Their finances are controlled and they are then handed fines if they don't adhere to strict rules imposed by the gang leader.
It results in victims finding themselves in huge amounts of debt and being unable to repay it on wages as little as £10-a-week.
There have also been cases of victims working in cannabis farms or women being brought to the country to be sexually exploited in illegal brothels.
Now a senior detective at Northumbria Police has thrown his backing behind the awareness day - and said the problem does exist in our region like many others across the UK.
Detective Superintendent Mick Paterson, of the Safeguarding Department, added that the public have a role to play in identifying victims of these offences.
He said: "Victims of these types of offences can be of any age, ethnicity or gender but they all have one thing in common - they are very vulnerable.
"These organised crime gangs – who are operating in towns and cities across the country – are securing contracts worth hundreds of thousands of pounds while putting victims to work for pennies.
"It is an emerging crime trend that UK law enforcement is very alive to and every officer in Northumbria has been trained to identify these types of offences. This has resulted in a number of successful prosecutions where modern day slavery gangs have been put behind bars.
"However, the public also have a role to play in safeguarding vulnerable people and taking these predatory criminals off our street.
"We need everyone to be aware of the signs of these offences and if you suspect a person is a victim of modern day slavery then you need to contact the police."
Northumbria's Police and Crime Commissioner, Dame Vera Baird QC, is also backing the awareness day and said safeguarding vulnerable people is a priority.
She said: “Human trafficking is a very serious crime and exploits vulnerable people in truly appalling ways.
"Here in Northumbria we have developed clear strategies to tackle this type of crime and we work hard with partners to support any victims and make sure they receive the support they need.
"We all have a responsibility to help protect those who may be vulnerable. This kind of crime is often hidden, but I urge people to remain vigilant and report anything suspicious to police.
"We will catch those responsible and we will bring them to justice.”
Trafficking victims are often lured into another country by false promises and so may not easily trust other members of the public.
Some signs to look our for in victims include:
- Be fearful of police/authorities
- Be fearful of the trafficker, believing their lives or family members lives are at risk if they escape
- Exhibit signs of physical and psychological trauma e.g. anxiety, lack of memory of recent events, bruising, untreated conditions
- Be fearful of telling others about their situation
- Be unaware they have been trafficked and believe they are simply in a bad job
- Have limited freedom of movement
- Be unpaid or paid very little
- Have limited access to medical care
- Seem to be in debt to someone
- Have no passport or mention that someone else is holding their passport
- Be regularly moved to avoid detection
The public are also asked to keep an eye out for suspicious properties that may be used to house victims or for criminal activity such as cannabis farms. Signs include:
- Properties where the curtains or blinds are closed all the time
- Pungent smell coming from the property
- Unusual noises coming from the property
- Visitors at unusual times day or night
If you are concerned that a person may be a victim of these types of offences then you can report it police on 101 or call the Modern Slavery Helpline on 08000 121 700.