Modern slavery takes many forms, from sexual exploitation through to domestic slavery and forced labour, but it is real and it is happening here in Warwickshire.
That was the message from Warwickshire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe as he visited Nuneaton Market on Anti-Slavery Day to raise awareness among the public by highlighting the work that is being done to bring offenders to justice and provide support to victims.
There are an estimated 136,000 people in the UK trapped in conditions of modern slavery, some of whom are also the victims of human trafficking. Worldwide, it is thought that a staggering 4.9 million people find themselves trapped in such conditions.
Modern slavery is a serious and often hidden crime, making it difficult to recognise and stop. It can happen to anyone, of any age, nationality or gender. That’s why raising awareness of the signs to look out for and the help that is available is so crucial.
To help achieve this, Mr Seccombe has commissioned the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network to expand its work in Warwickshire, employing an Independent Modern Slavery Advocate to work with partners including the police and local authorities to help raise community awareness and train front line staff and practitioners with the purpose of reducing the threat of modern slavery across the county.
The aim is to protect communities and make them more resilient to modern slavery, with prevention activity to reduce the risk of becoming involved in exploitation.
Crucially, the service also helps provide support to victims of modern slavery and human trafficking, to help them cope and recover from their ordeal.
Warwickshire Police and Crime Commissioner Philip Seccombe said: “Modern slavery and human trafficking are familiar terms to many people but often they are thought of as things that happen elsewhere. The reality is they are happening everywhere across the globe, including right here in Warwickshire.
“At its simplest, the terms mean the illegal exploitation of people for personal or financial gain. This can operate in plain sight in familiar places such as shops, nail bars and car washes, so it is important that we raise awareness among the public of what to look out for and how to report concerns.
“Equally, it’s vitally important that the right help and support is available for the victims of this horrendous crime and that’s why I am proud to support and expand the work of the West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network into Warwickshire.”
He added: “Working with partners is key to tackling modern slavery and human trafficking and I was delighted to able to join with community safety partners on Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council’s stand at Nuneaton Market on National Anti-Slavery Day. Alongside our Independent Modern Slavery Advocate, we were able to talk to the public and help to raise that overall awareness.”
How To Report A Concern
The West Midlands Anti-Slavery Network has a wealth of information on how to spot the signs of modern slavery and human trafficking, as well as information for victims and survivors. You can find out more at: westmidlandsantislavery.org.
If you or someone you know is a victim of any form of exploitation, or you suspect someone may be at risk of exploitation, you can contact your local District or Borough Council, or Warwickshire Police on 101. In an emergency call 999.
Alternatively you can contact the independent Modern Slavery Helpline to report any suspicions or concerns about individuals, premises or locations. Businesses can also call for advice. Call 0800 0121 700 or report www.modernslaveryhelpline.org.